Re: NANFA-- re: Why it's tougher out west...

Jeff Fullerton (
Mon, 20 Sep 1999 13:29:28 -0400

On the human side of the equation part of the problem is managerial ego.
Many government agencies are simply set in their ways. They are acustomed to
doing things a certain way and are reluctant to change. They certainly don't
want to admit they are wrong. This is a problem universal to human
organizations - govermental and private sector. How many companies fail
because of a manager's obsession to stay the course in denial of the
obvious. With governments it is somewhat different - barring a military
takeover they are for the most part here to stay and if they are funded well
enough they are not subject to the natural forces of the market.

Of course they are subject to the whims of politics and are for the most
part confused by the demands of special interests. They are pulled at by
envrionmentalists, loggers, ranchers sportsmen and developers. On top of
that you have alot of people in these agencies who don't know anything about
the resources they are charged to protect and enhance. Like the lady forest
ranger who gave one of our members in California a big hassle over taking
some mosquitofish for his aquaruim - not out of concern that they might be
released elsewhere. Or the ranger who gave Mike Quispe & I a beef over
testing the pH of a lake last summer. In Pennsylvania there is a list of
species officially approved for fish culture- and it is a fairly diverse
array of species including many that would be liked by aquarists as well as
pond enthusiasts.

One of the stipulations for fish culture in our state that I find ironic is
that they forbid any propagation of stocks of fish taken from the wild in
the state but it's okay to import from a hatchery out of state. If they
really wanted to improve the fishery they would allow - or even encourage
hatcheries to obtain their breeding stock from local waters and encourage
private pond and lake owners to obtain their stock from local sources. I
think the state is concerned about hatcheries plundering the fish from the
wild, but carefully regulated use of local fish stocks could over the long
term improve the fishery by conserving what is left of the local gene pool
and selecting for fish that are best suited for the conditions of a
particular climate and drainage system.Of course much of the gene pools are
already heavily contaminated by introductions but the species (here in the
east anyway) are still holding their own and can be over time shifted back
to a more localized genotype. This is much like cultivated plants (prior to
the advent of the modern hybrid strains) - which were well adapted to local

I suppose this emphisis is weighed heavily toward the management of habitats
for game fishes but we should not be too critical of the interests of
anglers and sportsmen. Without them there would probably be less wild areas
remaining today. Their influence and financial resources supported the
management of fish and game resources and habitats that harbor many non-game
fish, animals and plant species. Sometimes the traditional approach
developed by natural resource agencies over the course of this century was
ridden with oversights that were detremental to non-game species, they still
were good intentioned. You cannot condemn people for what they did in
ignorance, but rather enlighten and work with them to find a better way.

Of course managerial ego will always be an obstacle but not an
insurmountable one. We can work with the states, sportsmen and land owners
to develop better management of fisherys and land use practices to enhance
natural resouces for the enjoyment of all as well as restoring a healthier
ecosystem. That's better than the cut and run ethics of the 19th Century or
the opposite extreme that some environmentalists go to in a zeal for the
total exclusion of humans from the landscape. We need to go back to a more
interdisciplinary philosophy of managing natural resouces along the lines of
T. Roosevelt that emphisises multiple use and sustained yeild and make that
vision more appropriate for our age by applying the current knowledge to
correct the oversights.
As individuals we can also do things that will help. Learn as much as you
can about the flora and fauna indigenous to your region. Then incorporate
native plants into your landscape for wildlife. Plant hedgerows or borders,
buffers for streambanks and lake shores. Fruit bearing plants for birds,
leave some deadwood or piles of slabs to shelter reptiles and amphibians.
Get familair with invasive exotic plants and eliminate them from the
property and replace with a more appropriate native. Build a pond and stock
it with native plants and fish. Get into organic gardening and don't be so
fussy about your lawn. That will cut down on the excess use of pesticides
and fertilizers that contaminate streams and ground water. Plant a border of
native feild flowers and grasses on one side of the garden to harbor
beneficial insects and things like lizards and toads that will help control
insect pests. Build another pond to double as an irrigation source and
vernal pool breeding habitat for amphibians and wetland plants. (this must
be kept free of fish and ideally will be used up by summer's end). Try
growing heirloom seeds that are adapted to local conditions- you will also
be helping to perserve the genetic diversity of cultivated food plants which
is also endangered! Share this knowledge with your friends and neighbors.
Cultivate a sustainable community of life!

Make it so that we can trust in the people to do the right thing.
Good Day All
Jeff from PA

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