Traffic in plants and plant seeds

Anne Kilmer viceroy at
Sun Sep 20 04:48:43 EDT 1998

Paul Cherubini wrote:
> In regards to the monarch butterfly situation in Pacific Grove,
> California, it appears that Ann Kilmer, Liz Day, Doug Yanega and Ken
> Phelep have all voted AGAINST planting eucaltyptus there to maintain the
> monarch butterfly habitat.

Anne Kilmer, if you would be so kind. 
> Am I correct in concluding that given the choice between planting
> eucalyptus or allowing the monarch habitat to wither away,  you all
> would vote for the latter?

Lacking more useful information about eucalyptus and California, I would
question it. I sure wouldn't vote until I knew all about it. 
	There is obviously a third choice: If the eucalyptus are indeed
invasive and we're not just being politically correct here, I'd find out
which native trees would normally invade the pine woods as the pines
disappear. Pine-woods, lakes, oak forests ... all are temporary on this
changing planet. Aren't there understory plants longing to take over as
forest? Or is the area so damaged that, as Liz suggests, Nature can
offer us nothing but weeds?
	Eucalyptus is fast-growing and creates a monoculture, in my experience.
They are not all as invasive as my friend the melaleuca; our local
botanical garden has several other species, all well-behaved. In these
circumstances, so far. 
	It seems a shame to deliberately invade a pristine native landscape (is
that what we have here) with an exotic. Better to figure out what Nature
would have done without us, and then help it along. 
	Pine woods normally yield to hardwoods, until the fires pare things
back down.  Fires also remove old, damaged trees, clearing spaces for
youngsters to grow. 
	You might not want fires there during monarch season, but I bet the
foresters have thought about fires as a management tool. 
	And some of us bughuggers would be out there chained to the dying
pines, chanting. Nor would local homeowners be happy. Maybe California
is ruined and it's too late to care? Gee, I can't believe that. 
	I think somewhere here we ecology-changers need to figure out where
we're going and whether we like it. Mall World? I think Semjase sees
this coming and is providing for it. Me, too. Doesn't mean we like it.
But, if you stamp out diseases, predators, solve world hunger and save
all the babies, that's where we're going if we don't bring down the
birth rate. 
	What I see happening, Paul, is the dumbing down, or oversimplification,
of the environment to the point where the man in the street can
understand it. The race of man is accompanied by a few essential plants
and animals, and some hangers-on, and wherever we go we will take them
along. If we leave some behind (dogs, cats, horses, pigs), the next
folks will bring them. 
	The new environment must accommodate itself to weeds, bees, slash and
burn agriculture, and whatever other refinements we bring along. 
	We have come late to this happening, and cannot change what has already
happened. The Dodo is gone. We, here and on the entomo-l, continually
mourn the loss of species due to exotics, the bulldozer, the spread of
	IMHO, the monarch is not in danger except at the hands of its friends.
	If its chosen roosts are lost, surely it will find others? 
Nevertheless, of course we must unite to preserve the forests where it
overwinters from damage at our hands. The invasion of disease in these
pines may well be due to people walking over their roots. Pines are that
	I am not proposing that California remove the eucalyptus they have, and
love. But if there is a pristine forest, it should not be destroyed to
accommodate the needs of one (very popular) butterfly, at the expense of
all others. 
	My own garden is a gallimaufry of exotic trees, vines and shrubs; most
of them were there before I came, and political correctness will not
cause me to abandon them. 
	But, when I replant, I think of the natives first. 
> I am not trying to be sarcastic here---this is truly the actual
> situation facing decision makers in Pacific Grove right now.
> Paul Cherubini, El Dorado, California
> paulcher at

They need to look for that third choice. How many monarchs are being
lost (as Ken suggests) because they stop in California, in a place where
the winter is too cold, or not cold enough, rather than going on to
their traditional roosts? And, biodiversity and evolution continuing to
function without our help, might they work it out themselves?
	Are we trying to decide here what is best for the monarchs, or what is
best for Pacific Grove, as a place where tourists gather and strew money
all about ... or what is best for the environment in general, whatever
that means. 
	When we try to fix things we can't understand, we sometimes run into
trouble. Rule one: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Rule two: Make sure there's a backup.
Anne Kilmer
South Florida
Where I am hoping that Nature's urge to reduce the human race will not
hit me with a hurricane. For everything is about us, isn't it.

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