Houston Pond Society
Join Today and Become an integral part of Houston's First and Only Pond Society

WHITE LIST SYMPOSIUM

After much work and effort by Rolf and Anita Nelson, Senator Hegar realized that the current legislation is wrong and vowed to change it to a more common sense approach. His press release follows.

Hegar Rejects White List Proposal at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. State Senator says concept is unrealistic approach for Texas

Austin, Texas—Today, Texas State Senator Glenn Hegar called on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) Executive Director, Carter Smith, to forego further work and cease implementation on the proposed aquatic plant species "white list" and the accompanying rules. Senator Hegar will sponsor a bill during the current legislative session that clarifies this request in statute.

"While I certainly think that a great deal of progress has been made, I am not confident that the arrived-upon proposal is enforceable or realistic for Texas. With the list and rules now complete, it is clear that approval of this measure would severely impact our state's economy and the biofuel, nursery, and gardening industries across the state," said Senator Hegar.

Through House Bill 3391 of the 81st Legislature, TPWD was directed to establish a "white list" of non-native aquatic plants approved for sale or possession in Texas. The process proved onerous as stakeholders continually came forth with new concerns and species not yet included. In September 2010, with the deadline fast approaching and the list not yet complete, Senator Hegar granted the Department a time extension in an effort to ensure that all necessary information was considered in the creation of the "white list." In his letter to TPWD requesting they forego further work on the "white list", Hegar acknowledged the hard work and countless hours spent compiling a "white list" and commended the Department for their sincere and diligent collaboration with stakeholders throughout the process, but was clear that the project should be abandoned in the face of his and many others strong and decided view that it is simply not a viable solution.

"I don’t believe any of us understood the full scope and significant ramifications that adoption of a white list would present. It is my hope that we can continue to work toward a common-sense solution to prevent the introduction of invasive plants into Texas while still protecting the environment and economy of Texas," Hegar said. "It is vital that we continue to make a proactive effort to ensure that the natural resources across this state are protected for generations to come."

###

Senator Hegar served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives and now represents Senate District 18 in the Texas Senate. Senate District 18 contains over one-third of the Texas coastline. He is a sixth generation Texan, and earns a living farming on land that has been in his family since the mid 1800's. He currently resides in Katy, Texas with his wife Dara, and their three children, Claire, Julia, and Jonah.

IWGS “WHITE LIST” SYMPOSIUM
SEPTEMBER 16 – 19, 2010

Dan Cook, President of the Houston Pond Society and wife, Andrea (web site www.HoustonPondSociety.org email dcook1830@aol.com) attended the (International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society) IWGS symposium in San Angelo. Even though the event was all weekend, we only attended Friday, September 17th for the specific purpose of finding out more about the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) list of proposed approved exotic (non-native) aquatic plants, their “White List.” All other non-native aquatics are on their “Black List” which means that

ANY NON NATIVE AQUATIC PLANT NOT ON THEIR “WHITE LIST” WILL BE ILLEGAL TO GROW, SELL, OR POSSESS IN THE STATE OF TEXAS IF THIS LAW IS ALLOWED TO BE IMPLEMENTED AS WRITTEN.

Will fish and terrestrial plants be next?

The speaker was Dr. Earl Chilton, II, Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Program Director for the State of Texas. There were approximately 150 in the audience. The attendees were from across the U.S., Texas, Australia, Germany, Thailand, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and China, and were concerned since many were growers and would not be able to import or export from Texas so it would hurt everyone's business, not only ours locally.

Dr. Chilton read us a list of criteria on how the plant groups were determined. It was technical, very difficult to understand, and frankly, didn't make much sense. There was no hand out of this criteria and there was no time to take notes. Then Dr. Chilton entertained questions from the audience such as:

  • What are you basing your determinations on?
  • Since a “Black List” already exists in some form why is TPWD demanding complete control of all aquatic plants in Texas? It seems they are not happy with the lack of power in the law as it is.
  • Many of us have backyard ponds and our landscaping includes some plants on your “Black List.” Since your proposal says it will be illegal to possess these plants, how do you plan to handle that situation? (Note: We were told that TPWD enforcement is allowed to enter our private property with neither our permission nor a warrant. Would someone please research this to find out if is correct.)

After much badgering, we managed to learn from him that TPWD has assigned 30 staff members to investigate aquatic plants. The qualifications of these staff members were never revealed (nor has it been despite repeated requests for this information from Rolf Nelson owner of Nelson Water Gardens). We don't know how or from where they glean their information, but then they pass it all along to botanists with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center who then make further determinations. Then those recommendations go to Dr. Chilton for final decision. At least, that's the way we understood him. Keep in mind he was doing everything in his power and using everything which he was taught, to avoid, evade and in general muddy the waters of his answers. Nothing was definitive.

Questions were contentious and some even openly hostile. Dr. Chilton remained oblivious to our concerns and putting it mildly, stonewalled us. At the end of his allotted time, we didn't know any more than we did before his presentation and quite frankly, were even more frustrated. It seems the doctor has sole and complete control of this upcoming “White List.” For current information on the White List. Log onto www.IWGS.org.

We were given two lists: proposed plants approved, and proposed plants not to be approved. When we saw the proposed “White List” last May there were very few plants on it. Water lilies, lotus, some gingers, creeping jenny, were just some to be outlawed. Now all of a sudden listed on Dr. Chilton's hand out these plants were approved. If an aquatic plant was deemed invasive and dangerous just last May then how thorough and well researched could their investigation have been to begin with?

All plants on the so-called “Black List” should be researched thoroughly by qualified aquatic plant experts, not bureaucrats who may or may not have the expertise to make such determinations. It is going to be up to us to stop this invasion of our liberty and further control of our lives, this time by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

We ask that each of you please write and/or email your State representative and senator, as well as Senator Hegar, co-sponsor of this bill, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioner, Governor Rick Perry, Dr. Earl Chilton, and Speaker of the Texas House, Joe Straus. Put pressure on them. This law has been passed, however the proposed “White List” has not yet been created. If you do not know your State Senator or Representative, go to www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/.

Tell them this law should be repealed in its entirety and replaced with one continuing the “Black List” of banned plants that already exists. If TPWD makes a mistake and forgets to put an aquatic plant on the “White List” and it is in your garden or pond, you are in violation of the law and can be prosecuted and/or fined for their mistake. We feel the present law was rushed through, with the urging of TPWD and was not researched as to it's impact on aquatic plants in Texas.

Also, please suggest all plants on either list be identified by their common names, not only their botanical names so that the general public will know what they are talking about.

And finally, once any “List” is established, the public should be educated by an effort of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as to which plants are banned in Texas and why.

Please make your letter firm, but polite and forceful.

The Honorable Rick Perry
Governor of the State of Texas
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, TX 78711-1428
www.governor.state.tx.us.contact/

Mr. Carter Smith, Executive Director
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
1-800-792-1112

Mr. Ross Melinchuk
Deputy Executive Director
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
1-800-792-1112

Dr. Earl W. Chilton, II
Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Program Director
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
1-800-792-1112

The Honorable Glenn Hegar, State Senator
Capitol Office District Office
P.O. Box 12068 P.O. Box 1008
Capitol Station Katy, TX 77492
Austin, TX 78711 (281) 391-8883
(512) 463-0118 (281) 391-8818 (fax)
(512) 475-3736 (fax)

The Honorable Joe Straus, Speaker of the House
Capitol Office District Office
Room CAP 2W.13 7373 Broadway, Suite 202-A
P.O. Box 2910 San Antonio, TX 78209
Austin, TX 78768 (210) 828-4411
(512) 463-1000 (210) 832-9994 (fax)
(512) 463-0675 (fax)

Thanks.

Dan Cook