Rare herp-related victory

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ugh
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 5:46 am

Rare herp-related victory

Post by ugh » November 1st, 2012, 6:01 am

For my fellow NE chapter brethren.I posted this on the 'product to avoid' post on the main forum. Wanted to show what a little bit of initiative can get done. This was from a simple two paragraph email and pics I sent to the agency I guessed would be the one to contact about this kinda environmental issue. If i guessed wrong, I'd ask where to take it next with some pics. Nothing fancy, just told them what I'd seen, where, when and why I thought they needed to know about it. Of course I kept it professional and friendly-important. But at the same time I was prepared to go over some folks heads or better yet send it to several people in case the one I sent it to was not helpful. Initially I actually walked into the department's headquarters,spoke to someone, then sent the email as she told me to. I hope everyone here would do the same if need be, that's my point of posting this.You can't just assume these government agencies are full of experts that are on top of everything or anything.They're human and they have full plates already most likely.

This herp obsession is largely a losing battle in which we just try to stem the tide, so when this kinda stuff happens it feels like a big deal.....


Figured this was worth sharing here-

After seeing enough of this monofilament erosion blanketing and what it can do to local wildlife esp. snakes, I decided to type up a letter describing the problem and asking for it to be banned. Initially I wasn’t sure who to send it to or if I was essentially wasting my time, but wanted to document it and show the negative effects it can have on a local snake population- just get it on paper and go from there. I did send a few pics of snakes stuck in it and pointed out a readily available alternative that doesn’t trap snakes in it- a woven product that doesn’t have fixed joints like the monofilament crap. Absolutely no reason not to use the bad stuff anymore.I mentioned he names of it, the loose good stuff was called Jute matting.The monofilament shit that I knew of was made by a co. called Curlex.


Went to the local environmental government agency, asked around til I met someone that works with relevant issues. She was stunned by the pics and descriptive text of my letter describing the risks for snakes where this junk is used. She made a couple calls.

Next thing I know a couple days later she forwards me a letter from a prominent developer that had been using the bad product. In short it was a company-wide letter from a bigwig ordering that the product no longer be used in the state on any of the company’s sites, effective immediately, and to switch to the more environmentally friendly alternative described above. A start- most definitely a positive step in the right direction.

I was pleasantly surprised by the prompt and positive response from just a letter I typed up with a grand total of about an hour of my time and thought.I’d written letters several times before to other government agencies and had gotten mixed results: from no reply, to angry replies, to hot air lip service, to other positive responses but this one felt like the most tangible and satisfying.

Anyway just thought it was worth showing here if it inspires one other person to do the same. The amount of innocent ignorance it reveals can be shocking. The girl with the state that I made initial contact with was shocked and disgusted by my letter and photos. It’s easy for any of us to assume that regular, non-herp/non-treehugger ordinary folks are aware of and just don’t care about something because we see it as common knowledge. We forget how specialized this niche of herp/naturalist obsession really is and that laypeople just are oblivious to it.


Lastly I will mention, that several like-minded herp folk and friends of mine were not compelled to do so though they saw the same in there areas. Why? Understandably, they felt it was a waste of time to do so. Obviously it wasn’t. Can you EXPECT the same positive response by the state agency in your area? Of course not; I had no expectations of a reply myself. But you won’t know till you give it a shot…If nothing else you’ll know you tried to do something though the proper channels of beureucracy.

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brick911
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Location: Morrisville, PA

Re: Rare herp-related victory

Post by brick911 » November 1st, 2012, 7:23 am

ugh wrote:Of course I kept it friendly-important.
This had to be the hardest thing of this whole experience for you. :lol:

Seriously though, very inspirational and good to hear. The next time I see a possibility to make this kind of difference, I'll shoot you a PM for some advice.

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brick911
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Re: Rare herp-related victory

Post by brick911 » November 1st, 2012, 7:26 am

Just re-read this again. I think the biggest point I like coming from your post is that, despite failed attempts in the past, its worth it to keep trying... Throw a lot of s*** at the wall, and some will stick.

ugh
Posts: 457
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 5:46 am

Re: Rare herp-related victory

Post by ugh » November 1st, 2012, 8:13 am

Good brick. And no it wasn’t hard to be nice. Glad you got something from that- you’re right about the ‘shotgun technique’ as I call it. I learned that after years of dealing with gov’t folks-including state biologists- that gave me lots of talk when I could track them down but did little-not even point me in a better directon- for whatever reason, often because they were focusing so much on what THEY felt was a priority. These guys are human too and everyone's got personal biases.

My main motive for posting it here on the NE chapter was when I recalled how many folks opted not to take any kinds of action, I’m talking about herpers. I’m not slamming them or mad at them, I just want to battle that kind of doubtful mentality from hampering any action being taken in the first place. It’s a frickin’ letter, what did I have to lose?


I’ve seen wild inconsistency from state to state re: the ability or willingness of these agencies to ultimately DO something at all, let alone do something that ACTUALLY MAKES IT TO THE LEVEL OF THE ANIMALS AND/OR THEIR HABITAT. Which is what the whole point is and the level I am most interested in getting shit done; that’s where it matters right? I am not talking about pushing for or supporting research projects, or submitting records in this case(or hardly any case but that's another debate). Cutting through the red tape of all types, or better yet, getting past it in the most proper manner. There’s a million excuses why they won’t or don’t or can’t get shit done. Bottom line it’s about what the priorities are. Rather then wait for or push for something to become a priority to the state, you can help; someone with an official title to their name doesn’t always hold a monopoly on what they do in the woods.

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brick911
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Re: Rare herp-related victory

Post by brick911 » November 1st, 2012, 9:19 am

Let's do our best to steer clear of the database debate, as I DO want to focus on your topic and advice... I will say this: NAFHA can be so much more than the naherp database. This is one of the ways, and while an individual need not be a NAFHA member to make this sort of difference, I would like us to be a resource for this type of thing and band together.

Along those lines, I had a call out to others earlier in the year where the Pinelands Preservation Alliance asked for our help in writing letters. Bottom line - it was to help save some pine snake habitat. I wonder who took the ten minutes to do this. Hopefully, more than a few.

Database aside, these are the kind of opportunities I'd like to see us as a group get better at (among other things). I love pretty pictures and herping for pure fun as much as the next guy, but we are supposed to be conservation-oriented. There's no reason we can't be both.

ADCIII
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Joined: August 26th, 2010, 9:56 am

Re: Rare herp-related victory

Post by ADCIII » November 1st, 2012, 10:12 am

Wow, what a victory! Is there any way this story could be sent to all local enviromental groups where this product could cause a problem? This is probably all of them as I'm sure this affects more than herps. Congratulations and THANK YOU for your fine efforts. It just goes to show you that one sure can get the wrong impression of a person just be reading his comments on a forum. I centainly will view your posts with a better light. Thanks again, Art Cecil

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