|Many popular varieties of aquarium plants could be prohibited in Texas, including popular items like Cryptocoryne wendtii, several Echinodorus species, Hygrophila and Rotala rotundifolia.|
Trade in at least 43 aquarium plant species and many water garden plants could be restricted in Texas if the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approves a proposal regulating possession of exotic aquatic plants at its meeting January 27.
The regulations, part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s efforts to prevent the introduction of potentially invasive, non-native aquatic plants into the state’s ecosystem, create a “white list” of plants approved for sale in the state, effectively barring trade in those plants not listed. Moreover, some plants not on the approved list will also be placed on an “ineligible species list,” meaning that the department has determined those species pose a risk. Under the proposal, interested parties could petition the department to add plants to the approved list, unless they are already on the ineligible list.
“This new legislation will make it difficult for businesses to keep a good selection of aquarium plants in stock,” said Brandon McLane, vice president of grower Florida Aquatic Nurseries. “Many popular varieties of aquarium plants will soon be prohibited in the state. Bread and butter items like Cryptocoryne wendtii, Cyperus helferi, several Echinodorus species, almost all known species of Hygrophila, Rotala rotundifolia, Pogostem helferi and Vallisneria spiralis will be eliminated in Texas.”
The public meetings, all of which are to begin at 7 p.m., will take place in four cities before the commission’s Jan. 27 public meeting at the Texas Park and Wildlife Department’s Austin headquarters.
Austin -- Jan. 13 -- TPWD Headquarters (4200 Smith School Road)
Fort Worth -- Jan. 19 -- Cabela’s (12901 Cabela’s Drive)
Katy -- Jan. 11 -- Bass Pro Shop (5000 Katy Mills Circle)
San Antonio -- Jan. 18 -- Lions Field Adult Center (2809 Broadway St.)
McLane also noted that the law would place aquarium plant growers in Texas at a competitive disadvantage for the national market and that Texas hobbyists would be at a disadvantage at aquascaping events due to the limited variety—even though many of the affected plants have been kept for years and not been found to be invasive to Texas or any other state.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is now seeking public comment on the proposal.
“We believe this new approach is the most efficient way to prevent the introduction of invasive exotics into the ecosystem,” said Earl Chilton, the department’s exotic vegetation program manager. “Most folks want to do what’s right for the environment and knowing which exotic aquatics are acceptable will hopefully eliminate inadvertent introduction.”
Meanwhile, proponents of water gardening are rallying support to attend a series of public hearings in a bid to keep several aquatic plants legal in the state.
Those plants include elephant ears, Egyptian papyrus, water poppy, yellow snowflake, dwarf cattail, graceful cattail and variegated spider lily, all of which are currently on the ineligible list, as is Mexican petunia, which is not even an aquatic plant, according to Rolf Nelson, owner of Nelson Water Gardens & Nursery in Katy, Texas.
Nelson is urging interested parties to attend the hearings if possible and to contact state legislators to voice concerns before the commission votes on the proposal. The proposed rules can be viewed by clicking here. That website will also accept online comments.
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