Sunday, September 26, 2004

Invasive Species: The Newest Threat to Property...Rights? has yet another diatribe about the threat to property rights caused by invasive species science. In this version, Peyton Knight talks about how the current version of the Senate's Federal Transportation Bill (S. 1072) has a provision to allow the government to manage private property if it is shown to have an invasive plant on it. Normally the ISW presents stories without bias (other than the occasional snarky comment), but here are some issues I have with this opinion piece:

  • Invasive species, indeed any weedy species, don't give a hoot about your property boundaries. Sometimes things that happen on your property affect others, and it's not fair to say tough luck just because you own that plot of land. I'm sorry, but if someone notices that a bunch of trees on your property are infested with Asian longhorn beetles, I don't think you have a right to not do anything about it. I also don't think you should have to pay to remove the trees, and I would like to see the government help you out by maybe replanting or giving you some money. But unless you're going to build a biodome over your land, this is about more than you and what you "own."
  • I own a house, I have a yard, and I pull up weeds, even if they're native, to clean my flower beds. I'm not stupid enough to think humans can convert 100% of our land back into pristine habitat for native flora and fauna. And neither is the government. It's crazy to think that their goal is to eliminate all non-native species, or that Senators are trying to sneak this law through under the radar so they can redefine "invasive" however they please. Do you know how long it took them to arrive at this official definition?
  • I do not consider myself a "radical Green" or "international socialist," but I would like to tell all property rights' advocates that I do not want to control your land. I do not even claim to know how to control your land. What I would prefer is that you take the time to properly manage your own land, keeping in mind that it might be nice to share some of it with the native creatures that used to live there before you built your house/condo complex/strip mall. So maybe the next generation won't grow up knowing flowers from the print on your dish towels. Just my own ecologically-slanted a-bit-heavy-on-the-melodrama thoughts.
I welcome property rights advocates to politely comment below, I am honestly interested in hearing your views.

For more background on this issue, check out previous ISW posts about Jim Beers, or do a general search for property rights.

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