Skip to comments.Planting Evidence? The discovery of a protected herb sparks accusations of sabotage
Posted on 07/19/2006 7:17:58 AM PDT by oxcart
Did someone in this wine-country town illegally plant an endangered flower to sabotage a proposed housing development? That is the question at the center of a quarrel that some here have dubbed "Foamgate."
Bob Evans, a 72-year-old retired elementary-school principal, said he was walking with his dog last year when he came upon the tiny white flowers of Sebastopol meadowfoam poking from shallow pools of water in a grassy field.
The former bean farm happens to be the site chosen for the 20-acre Laguna Vista housing development.
Evans and other opponents seized on the discovery of meadowfoam, a federally protected species, in hopes that the developer would be required to scale back plans for 145 houses and apartments. "It was the bad luck of the developer that it popped up," Evans said.
But state wildlife officials investigated and concluded that the meadowfoam had been transplanted there. They ordered it dug up.
This year, the flowers returned, and so did the controversy. The dispute has held up final approval of the building project.
Sebastopol, a well-to-do community of about 8,000 people 50 miles north of San Francisco, is known for its environmentally conscious residents and restrictive growth policies.
When the meadowfoam appeared in April 2005 and after the Department of Fish and Game determined that it had been planted, it appeared to be the work of zealous conservationists.
"The people who planted it mistakenly believed that it would be the silver bullet that killed the project," said Scott Schellinger of Schellinger Brothers, the developer behind Laguna Vista.
Known as Limnanthes vinculans, the herb grows up to a foot tall and has small bowl-shape white flowers. They are found only in seasonal wetlands and in pools created by spring rains in this part of Sonoma County.
Threatened by agriculture and urban development, meadowfoam is listed as an endangered species by the state and federal governments. That makes it illegal to harm, remove or transplant it without permission.
Evans and other conservationists said that the $70 million development could damage the nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa, a 240-square-mile basin of wetlands that runs through Sebastopol.
Evans called Phil Northen, a biology professor at Sonoma State University, and the head of the local chapter of the California Native Plant Society. They visited the site and agreed that the plants were native.
But when a Fish and Game team visited the site at Schellinger's invitation a few weeks later, it reached the opposite conclusion.
Eric Larsen, the department's deputy regional manager, said that the flowers had never before been seen at the site, which is at a higher elevation than the typical meadowfoam habitat.
Fish and Game began an investigation into who planted the flowers but never identified any suspects. The department interviewed Evans and Northen, but Larsen said that the case went cold.
The city council tabled final approval of Laguna Vista on May 22. A mediator is overseeing talks between Schellinger Brothers and residents, in hopes of reaching a compromise.
I know a town that is trying to get a railway station. Everytime they get ready to begin construction at a chosen site, someone finds an endangered blue-spotted slamader living there. Then everything stops, time passes, money is spent, a new site is chosen, they get ready and -- someone finds an endangered blue-spotted salamander. It's happened three times.
Ya can't put a shovel down without hitting one of these things. Either they are not that endangered, or else someone is planting them on the site.
Why not plant the whole development in meadowfoam, after the houses go up. If the plants do well there, they won't be "endangered" anymore.
Seems to me that if it can be transplanted once, it, and other sprouts, can be transplanted in the dead of night again.
Where is this happening?
Have you ever tried meadowfoam honey? Evidently we have enough meadowfoam flowers here in Southern Oregon to make hundreds of pounds of honey. It tastes like vanilla honey. Yumm!!
This story was Rush Limbaughs morning update this morning.
You've got a rare plant. That makes it illegal to plant it so that you've got more? Yup, it's a federal crime.
Once somebody does plant it (if they did), the bureaucrats dig it up and get rid of it! Don't transplant it, don't collect seed, don't create a spot for it as a celebrated part of a new project that helps connect people to their surroundings, GET RID OF IT. Why?
It's not "natural," as if nothing any human would do could help nature flourish, as if the only thing humans should do is to NOT TOUCH ANYTHING.
These people are sick. They do more damage to their surroundings as they allow weeds and pests to propagate than any other cause. They sit on their fat butts and let whole systems be destroyed that way over millions of acres, and because it happened on its own, that makes them morally superior. I spend six days a week, seven months a year, beyond full time, undoing the damage they do.
Needless to say, the key part of this rite is the bucketload of money to be consumed by lawyers, bureaucrats, and activists. The plant doesn't get a damned thing.
"California Native Plant Society" AKA Hippies with Law Degrees
They did the same thing here in San Diego County. Some dormant teeny-tiny butterfly was found right in the middle of a proposed housing development.
My thought was .. if the butterfly is so rare, then take it to the SD Zoo (would famous), and support building a habitat for it. They already have a glorious butterfly exhibit inside a huge atrium.
But that logical use of money is not the goal .. the goal is to stop construction.
This is a good reason why the law has got to be changed. Stopping construction of a major development on private property ought to be prohibited unless fair compensation is paid by the government.
It's some messed-up lib version of the Prime Directive. These folks think they're playing Star Trek.
They ordered it "dug up." That's sort of ambiguous. Where was it taken after the digging? To a botanical garden maybe?
Plant the meadowfoam on the POS Bob Evans property. Evans will no longer be able to cut the lawn. Plant an endangered mouse in Phil Northen--the biology professor at Sonoma State University--his pantry/basement and he will have to vacate his residence. It will serve the @ssclowns right to pull this crap. No doubt, though, these LDBs will find a way to justify their own exclusion from the laws they created.
Well, I mean somebody in the legislature get a clue and pass a law to allow it. Cheese!
Yeah, and if it's so readily propagated, how does it desereve to be called "endangered"? Just put some in a nursery somewhere. Sheesh!
Oh yeah, if we allow people to build, then the prices we can charge for our homes go down and besides, all those riff-raff move in. It's our exclusivity that's endangered. Pass the Pinot Noir, please.
The salamander problem is in Mass.
The lynx thread is here: