Saturday, February 10, 2007

Eastern Redcedars as Natural Villains?!!!

I am just stewing tonight about a front page article in today's Wichita Eagle, "Cedar Trees Gone Bad: Native Evergreen Threatens Ecosystem". According to this biased piece of pseudo-journalism, eastern redcedars are becoming more of a problem to "generations of Kansans" than "...blizzards and searing droughts...grasshopper swarms and hailstorms." They "threaten Kansas' water supply, cost ranchers millions in lost grazing grass and displace many kinds of wildlife."

No mention is made in the article about the redcedar's importance to wildlife as the only evergreen native to the state.

No mention is made in the article about the declining prairie wildlife species actually losing numbers because of overgrazing, destruction of native grasslands, increased use of pesticides and the general overuse of the land by many of those same ranchers.

No mention is made in the article about the fact that Kansas' water supply is primarily jeopardized by overutilization to grow crops that were never meant to grow in dry climates, by wetland destruction, and by lousy farming and ranching practices that increase runoff and soil erosion and that decrease aquifer recharge.

No mention is made of the fact that farmers, ranchers and other landowners in the state have understood for decades (if not centuries) that grassland left unmanaged will revert to brushland. And that good grassland management consists, in part, of periodic burns (mechanical or real) to remove redcedar encroachment.

So ultimately no mention is made in the article that if there's increased redcedar encroachment, it means that landowners aren't doing their management chores like they should. The ranchers are losing "millions in lost grazing grass" because they are not doing their chores like they should. Not much different, really, than little kids not wanting to clean up their rooms and then trying to blame everyone around them for their laziness.

Sadly, the real difference, though, is that most people who read this article will take it at face value and start seeing this wonderful plant as evil. It is one more wedge between the average person and basic understanding of how the natural world works. And that saddens me beyond belief.

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