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Nov. 1, 1996


By Mac McKinnon

Nature needs to be left alone

Most everyone knows that I'm always concerned about our environment and
believe in preserving and protecting it. It's also known that I'm also a
pragmatist in that we can't protect every species at the cost of common
sense and human needs.

One of the problems in our world is that we are tinkering with nature.
I believe God put certain plants and animals as well as people in
certain places for specific reasons. All are acclimated for the area
where they were placed by God.

People can make adjustments but the laws of nature don't allow that
adjustment for plants and animals (I'm including birds, insects and fish
in that category).

To bear out that point, there was a very interesting piece in the
outlook section of U.S. News & World Report recently under Nature that
was entitled the "Dirty Dozen".

It was pointed out that efforts by humans to solve problems in nature
by the introduction of certain species of plants and animals in
"foreign" parts of the world to solve one or more problems have actually
created more problems than they solve.

A new Nature Conservancy report finds that 4,000 non-native plants and
2,300 exotic animals have cost industries and agriculture billions of
dollars and contributed out the decline of 42 per cent of U.S.
threatened and endangered species. That report cited what it called the
"dirty dozen."

Some of that report as reported by U.S. News includes: Introduced into
the Colorado River as a sport fish, the flathead catfish is wiping out
native fish populations. The zebra mussel clogs utility water intake
pipes in the Great Lakes and Mississippi Basin. The rosy wolfsnail,
brought to Hawaii to control another exotic snail, has gobbled native
snails to near extinction. The green crab, accidentally introduced to
San Franciso Bay, threatens West Coast oysters and Dungeness crabs.

Australia's brown tree snake has wiped out virtually all bird species
in Guam and is now in Hawaii. The Balsam wooly adelgid, an apidlike
insect, has wiped out nearly three fourths of the South's spruce-fir

In Texas, to my knowledge, the striped Bass is wiping out other kinds
of fish in lakes including crappie and white bass.

Under the plant category, an ornamental with bright flowers, the purple
loosestrife, is clogging Northeast and Midwest wetlands. Tamarisk,
prized for wood, shade and erosion control, is sucking up precious
groundwater in the Southwest. Leafy spurge infests 3 million acres of
western grazing land and crowds out native grasses. Hydrilla, which can
grow 10 inches a day, is clogging Florida's waterways. Chinese tallow, a
tree planted to start a Gulf Coast soap industry, prevents growth of
native vegetation.

In Hawaii, the giant leaves of Miconia block sunlight that other plants
need to survive.

The point of all this is that we need to leave nature alone as God
created it.


Mac McKinnon is editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise. His column appears on Friday.
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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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