Legislative Alert – Update from IWGS

Published on July 16, 2010

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has been directed by the Texas Legislature through House Bill 3391 to publish a list of exotic aquatic plants, including algae, (ie., all non native aquatic species), which are approved for importation or possession in Texas without a permit. This will be the popularly referred to “White List” of approved plants. TPWD has been charged with completing (compiling?) this list by December 31, 2010. They must also develop rules for procedures for adding exotic aquatic plants to the approved list in the future.

TPWD has already developed a draft listing of exotic aquatic plants under consideration for approval for sale in Texas. This list is far shorter than lists provided by the Florida Division of Aquaculture; Nelson Water Gardens and Nursery, Inc., on behalf of Texas Businesses; and The International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society (IWGS). There is a great deal of concern regarding how the Genus Nymphaea (Waterlilies), will be handled in the new legislation. This Genus is without a doubt the most economically important water garden plant, not just to growers, wholesalers, and retailers of aquatic plants, but to the whole industry. Homeowners want beautiful, blooming, hybrid waterlilies in their water gardens, and it is this desire to have these wonderful plants that result in liners, pumps, filters, lights, and other pond related sales. The current Texas draft list is accessible at iwgs.org. Thanks to Kit Knotts of Water Gardeners International (WGI) for allowing us to forward to TPWD, not only her extensive listing of known Nymphaea species and cultivars, but also of Nelumbo; TPWD is fully aware of how many waterlily and lotus varieties we want to keep in the trade. (Access these lists at Victoria-Adventure.org)

As an industry, we need to pay attention to legislation that will affect our businesses and livelihood – Remember EPA’s restrictive Water-Smart Landscape proposals from 2009? We are a small industry without a major lobby. The IWGS has stepped up in Texas to help monitor the legislation and give an industry response to TPWD. Rolf Nelson (Nelson Water Gardens and Nursery, Inc) is Chairing the IWGS Exotic Species Legislation Committee to help develop effective responses to pending legislation. He can be reached at rolf@nelsonwatergardens.com for more information.

Rolf has invited Dr. Earl Chilton, Aquatic Habitat Enforcement Program Director for TPWD, to make a presentation at the IWGS Annual Symposium in San Angelo, TX September 16-19, 2010. Rolf has received confirmation from Dr. Chilton that TWPD will be there to make a presentation. It is imperative that our industry “show up in force” for this presentation–it is an opportunity to show them. Remember, this type of legislation will affect you and your business in your state. If your state has not already started on this data, it will soon. The San Angelo event is centered around the most extensive display of Nymphaea varieties in North America, and perhaps the world. Close to 300 varieties will be on display, including most of the species material found worldwide. This is a great opportunity to make a critical impression on TPWD. Visit iwgs.org for regulators the people this legislation will impact, and also to have a dialog with more details, and plan to attend.

There is strength in numbers, as evidenced by the response to the EPA last year. IWGS has already forged relationships with National Association of Pond Professionals (NAPP) and Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) to have a unified response. IWGS has been encouraged to lead this fight due to its plant based origins. Join IWGS to help us get out point across in developing these new regulations so we can continue to provide the enjoyment that a well planted water garden gives us.

Visit iwgs.org and click on Membership on the Home Page and JOIN! Commercial membership is only $75.00 and you will be helping Rolf demonstrate to TPWD and the legislative committee the number of businesses and organizations that will be affected by this legislation.
Please join and I hope to see you in San Angelo supporting your industry.

Rolf J Nelson

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