Invasive Species
  Nov 04, 2003 11:50 PST 

...When you add man to the mix, management is not optional. Unless, of
course, you can live with the consequences...

When you consider that over 70,000 nonnative species (many invasive) have
been brought into this country since it's birth, you realize that logging is not
the only issue (if even the most relevant).
Re: Invasive Species   Colby Rucker
  Nov 04, 2003 13:15 PST 

What's the source and breakdown for the 70,000 figure? To be relevant, one must assume it refers to species that have become established in this country (however we describe the geographical limits). Is the number documented, or does it include massive guesstimates for viruses, bacteria, and the like?

Everything considered, the number of imported pests, diseases and competitors significantly affecting our native vascular plants is actually quite small, not to belittle some horrendous exceptions. Putting those exceptions aside, large numbers of introduced species do not necessarily translate into proportionately severe problems.

While some plant species, like roundleaf bittersweet, will cause extensive damage, others may prove innocuous or beneficial, although scorned by the purists. In some cases, we become dependent on "invasives." As an example, the crash of Eurasian millfoil in local estuaries removed the physical buffer for nesting pumpkinseed sunfish, which were essential to populations of yellow perch and chain pickerel. Native aquatic vegetation is simply inadequate to withstand boat wakes. Of course, the environmentalists ignore the sunfish, and the state keeps dumping perch in the river with no results.

I think numbers are often used selectively to advance fine-sounding agendas, and insure more jobs. It's curious that the purists across the country never attack brown trout, ringnecked pheasants or norway spruce.

Anyway, I think 70,000 begs for context.

Re: Invasive Species   jarred trout
  Nov 04, 2003 14:08 PST 
bob, randy, brothers, and sisters:

is there anyway or any reason that good use could not be made of the over 70,000 nonnative species, including invasives?

furniture for the poor, fuel for the fires, building materials, even the more popular and expensive veneers?

sorry for the dumb question, but by nature and profession, i have been made to think "lemonade from lemons"

Re: Invasive Species
  Nov 04, 2003 15:07 PST 
Mr. Trout,

Many invasives are useful and some may even prove down right beneficial to
our long term survival. The problem with introducing nonnative species without
very strict controls is that we do not know what they will do to natural
systems that have been functioning in a relatively sustainable balance for thousands
of years.

Unfortunately the genie is already out of the bottle. The invasives are here,
more are on the way and new ones are being created by chemists with
absolutely no idea how natural systems work. We are running a completely uncontrolled
experiment on the natural environment in which we evolved and upon which our
survival depends. Will this experiment make our lives better or worse? I don't
think anyone can say for sure. But, it does make our future a lot less certain.
The purists are going to have no choice but to get used to new species in
their backyards and the experimenters are going to have to deal with, and
hopefully be held accountable for, the unexpected consequences their actions release.
In the end we are all going to have to work together even harder to ensure
our survival in a rapidly changing system that we still know so very little

The human race began taking its survival out of nature's/god's hands and into
its own with the invention of agriculture. Only time will tell if we are wise
enough to handle that responsibility. Like it or not that responsibility is
now largely ours. It is much too late to turn back even if we wanted to. The
only choice we have is to increase our understanding and find ways to restore
and maintain a sustainable balance between ourselves and the environment that
provides the resources we need to survive.

Re: Invasive Species
  Nov 04, 2003 16:56 PST 
In a message dated 11/4/2003 6:43:31 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

  if the deed already has been done, how can we ford a path to what defines us and ours?

First people need to realize just what deeds have been and are being done.
Then we need to recognize which of those deeds are good and which are bad, not
just in the short term but more importantly for the long term survival of the
human race. Only then can we stop repeating all the bad deeds.

Human beings are amazingly adaptable. I know we can fix the messes we have
made. But unless we learn from past mistakes we will be forced to spend all our
time cleaning up some of the present messes while new ones keep pilling up to
replace them and overwhelm us. The first thing a doctor does with an injured
patient is find and stop all the bleeding. Only then do they work on putting
the person back together. If they started out by just fixing each wound they
came across, one at a time until it is completely healed, there is a very good
chance the patient would die from another equally serious wound somewhere else
on the body.

Because our society and our economy are so focused on short term
gratification we our loosing sight of what our short term actions have on our long term
survival. 200 years of clear cutting and highgrade logging made some quick money
for some people. Aggresive fire supression allowed some lucky people to build
trophy homes in the middle of forests. Irrigation allows some farmers to grow
food in the dessert. But what are the long term costs of these actions to the
rest of society? The people in CA are getting yet another hint to the answer
of that question.

Humans began to dominate their surrounding through mutual cooperation and
innovative use of technology. Somehow our value system switched from working
together to survive to working separately to get the most gratification for the
self. Only a change in our societies value system will lead to long term
solutions. With the right value system and knowledge technology can save us. With
incomplete and faulty logic and a short sighted selfish value system it will
destroy us.

Re: Invasive Species   Don Bertolette
  Nov 04, 2003 17:49 PST 

But a not unrelated point...invasives, exotics, are most effective
colonizers of newly disturbed lands...the two most significant vectors here
in the SW are logging and wildfire...we're in the middle of a Colorado
Plateau research conference and the papers on the relationship between burn
severity and presence/abundance of invasives is extraordinarily high.
Re: Invasive Species   Gary Beluzo
  Nov 04, 2003 17:52 PST 

The agricultural revolution of 12,000 years BP resulted in a dichotomy
between US and THEM… settlement and WILDERness, domesticated/cultivated
species and WILD undesirable species….those organisms that were cultivated
or domesticated were artificially selected for by humans according to
utilitarian design and those that were wild and under natural selection
pressure were seen without intrinsic value and hunted down or eradicated.

Humans see natural systems as “wild”, chaotic, and “red in tooth and
claw”…in reality it is these natural systems that are fine tuned to the
environment in which they are found not the greatly simplified monocultures
that humans manage like cornfields and tree plantations that are genetically
engineered…through trial and error the natural species have become
adapted..they are the survivors and “fit”. Until we realize that natural
systems belong and that managed systems are inferior versions we will
continue to degrade forests…

Re: Invasive Species   Don Bertolette
  Nov 04, 2003 17:53 PST 
It's easy to get into statistical claims and run numbers against numbers, but easily as critical in the equation are qualitative measures...there are a handful of exotics in the west that are absolutely taking over grasslands/understory ecosystems...extensive AND intensive impacts.
Jobs? None of our "weed queens" know of many jobs, and the next level is volunteers, god bless their souls!
Re: Invasive Species
  Nov 04, 2003 19:07 PST 
Re: Highgrading 11/4/2003 3:12 PM E
...over 70,000 nonnative species (many invasive) have been brought into this
country since it's birth, you realize that logging is not the only issue (if
even the most relevant)...

Re: Highgrading 11/4/2003 4:16 PM E
...To be relevant, one must assume it refers to species that have become
established in this country...the number of imported pests, diseases and
competitors significantly affecting our native vascular plants is actually quite
small...numbers are often used selectively to advance fine-sounding agendas...I
think 70,000 begs for context...

assume ~ to take as granted though not proved
established ~ to become a landscape fixture
invasive ~ fast-growth, high-reproduction & few natural enemies allow
invasion of new habitat
non-native ~ introduced species, not naturally-occurring (whether across the
mountain or the ocean)
relevant ~ bearing upon the matter at hand
refer ~ to assign to a certain source, cause or relationship
species ~ group of similarly-reproducing organisms

Not that you would insinuate (subtly suggest) that yours truly would use a
number to selectively advance a fine-sounding agenda, but with the subject title
"highgrading", I had hoped to draw one of our esteemed colleagues into our
dialogue. With such an informed group, I am not afforded the luxury of
"assuming" anything. I think it important that we qualify of terms. After being
grilled by opposing counsel in my first deposition, I spent the next few weeks
coming up with a 1,500 word glossary of terms (some attorneys require additional
education). "Non-native species brought into the country" is a far cry from
"species that have become established in this country", and an even greater
stretch to say, "significantly affecting our native vasular plants." Non-native
or exotic simply means not idigenous or not naturally occurring, whether
across the mountain or the ocean. While invasives not only have become established
in their new habitat, but because of fast growth, high reproduction and
little or no natural enemies, threaten the very existence of native species
(whether the "top of the food chain" deems them desirable or no).

"Over 70,000 non-natives species brought into this country" was the general
consensus for a Terrestrial Plant Invasion Conference I attended. Among the
council were Drs. Keith Douce, David Moorhead, Odell, White, Miller, Eplee,
Williamson, Buck, Patrick and the current National Invasive Species Council Chair.
While many arborists and foresters are prone to limit invasives to vascular
plants, this arborist is not so prone. Case in point; when's the last time
you've seen a mature American chestnut, American elm or butternut? Just 3
non-native invasive pests have forever changed the Eastern landscape. Now our
hemlock and ash are so threatened. Even if is highgrading was successfully banned
across the Land, and the very best forestry practices enforced, let a few
non-native invasive pests into our ports, and all can easily be rendered moot. I
have only mentioned 5 threathened species.

By 1950, the number of just "plant" introductions into the United States was
estimated to be as least "180,000" (Klose 1950). In 1975, it was estimated
that at least 1,800 introduced plant species had escaped into the wild (Ripley
1975), with a large proportion establishing free-living populations (Austin
1978). The U.S. Congressional Office Technology Assessment claims there are at
least 4,500 species of foreign plants and animals that have established
free-living propulations in the U.S. since the beginning of European colonization.
Of that total, at least 675 species cause severe harm. 79 Species have caused
documented losses of almost $100 billion from 1906 to 1991 (Office of
Technology Assessment 1993). According to APHIS, invasive plants are estimated to
cover 100 million acres of land in the U.S., and are spreading up to 4,600 acres
everyday (USDAFS 1998). Cornell University estimates that invasive species
are presently costing Americans "$137 billion" every year (Pimentel 2,000).

Whether we should venture down the path of "reality" or remain uninformed,
invasive species affect all of our lives, tranforming our ecosystems, damaging
our crops, destroying our wetlands, altering natural habitats and threatening
many native species. With world globalization, this silent and costly invasion
is growing at an "unprecedented rate". To be sure, most of our food crop and
animals are non-native species and their benefit goes without saying.
But livestock and other organisms which are actively managed are not
considered "invasive".           

For example, fire ants and gypsy moths, cause harm on many fronts. While
most have accepted into the landscape as a permanent fixture the honey bee, the
Africanized killer bee represents a real threat. Zebra mussels have invaded
the Great Lakes, clogging water intake systems. Not to mention the sea lamprey,
which "collapsed" the great Great Lakes lake trout and whitefish nursery
(Wilkinson). The formosan termite, which can and does "eat it's way through
concrete" to get to food, causes $300 million in damage annually to New Orleans
alone (Bordes 2000). Then there's the Asian longhorned beetle which literally
"eats trees to death".   What about "deliberate" introduction like "kudzu" that
now covers much of the South, or purple loosestrife, that destroys waterfowl
habitats, choking out all native plants and animals. Then there's continuous
reintroduction of citrus canker threatening citrus crops. Florida alone has
spent $200 million to once again eradicate this foreign invader.

With more than 230 non-native species that have become established, San
Francisco Bay Estuary may be the most invaded estuary in the entire world (Cohen
and Carlton 1998). In some areas, it is difficult to find a "native" organism!
The pace of invasion is rapidly accelerating. About half of non-native
species have arrived in the last 35 years. From 1961 to 1995, the rate was a new
species every 14 weeks (Cohen and Carlton 1998). Nine months after the
introduction of a foreign "clam", it became the most abundant like-species in the
Bay, reaching densities of near "50,000 clams" per square meter (Peterson 1996).

I could go on...I'll spare you the dribble. But, whether you're talking
about illegal aliens or non-native invasives, this country has not seen the likes
of or so been threatened, by such an invasion. As I said at the outset, "When
you add man to the mix, management is not optional, unless you can live with
the consequences. Yes...high-grading is reducing our once great forests to
puny facsimiles of their former grandeur. And NAFTA is farming out many
manufacturing jobs to much of the world. But if we continue to open our borders to
any and all, we might as well collect all our proverbial marbles and head the
hell home!
My 1 1/2 cents worth,
Re:  (useful links)
  Nov 04, 2003 19:37 PST 
For anyone so inclined, please find below some useful invasive species links.> weeds/
Re: Invasive Species   Colby Rucker
  Nov 04, 2003 21:12 PST 

Thanks for providing some background on the 70,000 figure. Now, as I understand it, somewhere between 70,000 and 180,000 foreign plant species have been transported into this country, but only 1800 actually escaped by 1975. Of 4500 foreign plants and animals which became established, 675 have caused severe damage. The number of offending plants is unknown, but perhaps two or three hundred. Of those, a much smaller number actually threaten our forests.

It was obvious there aren't 70,000 plants threatening our forests, and I'm sure you didn't intend to say that, but I couldn't decipher your meaning. Such a number gets the attention of one's audience, but is, of course, misleading when referring to forest issues.

I had no information on the actual numbers, so I appreciate your clarification.

Re: Invasive Species
  Nov 04, 2003 21:38 PST 
In a message dated 11/4/2003 10:09:19 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:
...79 Species have caused documented losses of almost $100 billion from 1906
to 1991 (Office of Technology Assessment 1993)...
We can bring that number further down to "79" invasive species...but look at
the amount of damage 'so few' cause!
One other thing; none of these books mention "birds". Are not several
species non-native and quite destructive? What's the story on starlings?
Invasives   Thomas Diggins
  Nov 05, 2003 10:20 PST 

The numbers involved in the non-indigenous debate are, indeed, quite
shocking. I wouldn't at all doubt the veracity of 70,000 species
introductions. Randy also points out, quite correctly, that the impact
of invaders is highly variable. Very fortunately for us, a relatively
small percentage of invasions turn out to be truly harmful. In the Great
Lakes it is about a dozen out of >140 invading species. The majority go
mostly unnoticed. This is, of course, not an argument to ignore the
problem. We don't need to look far to see how just a few disastrous
invasions can irreparably harm an ecosystem, even a whole continent.

Charles Elton (in his seminal work on Species Invasions from 1958) views
human-facilitated species invasions as making the biological world "not
more complex, but simpler - and poorer".

On a side note, species invasions often have contributed jointly with
poor management to ruin ecologically and economically valuable
resources. Case-in-point: the sea lamprey and the Great Lakes fisheries.
The sea lamprey (prior to TFM applications to natal streams) preyed
heavily on stocks of lake trout and whitefish, but these species had
already been over-fished to the point of near total collapse by c. 1950.
The sea lamprey was more of a "last straw", and an impediment to
recovery, than an uderlying cause of collapse. Don could probably
comment on the interplay of bad management and species invasions with
regards to western forests.

Invasive Species
  Nov 06, 2003 08:00 PST 

I have far too much to say on the subject of invasives and have read
the past posts with great interest.......maybe I can gather my thoughts on
invasives at some point but the subject has me so concerned and worried that I
simply have not figured out how to deal with it. In WV we have a serious
invasion of Tree of Heaven and royal Pawlonia underway as well as scattered patches
of kudzu. Right now, our hardwood forests are under assault by one of the
most serious vegetative invasions ever experienced, Japanese stilt grass. It
was not discovered in WV until 1990, by 1995 is was in all 55 counties of the
state. It grows into all disturbed land including, game trails, hiking trails,
highways, power lines, logging roads and stream banks. On land in Crummies
Creek that was clearcut following the February 2003 ice storm the stilt grass
grew over 6' tall this year covering all of the tops of harvested trees and
shaded out (and already killed) the regeneration. Stilt grass has a thatch that
takes at least three years to decompose (compared to most tree leaves that are
gone in 18 months) and the dried thatch burns like gasoline.......not
something you want in the understory or a quality hardwood forest.

Russ Richardson