Virginia: A Matter of Contradictions - Curtail spread of West
Nile virus, but protect the breeding grounds for mosquitos
April 22, 2003
By John Fulton Lewis
For American Farm Publications
Spanish poet and philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952), who lived
years in the U.S.A., once observed: "The world is a perpetual
itself; at every moment it is the mockery and the contradiction of
what it is
intending to be."
Nowhere is this better demonstrated this spring than in Virginia,
is also true around the nation, that Americans constantly contradict
The Old Dominion, for example, is campaigning again this year to curtail
spread of the West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne illness that not only
crows and some other bird species but also can be fatal to human beings.
The means of such curtailment, as in earlier decades of Virginia's
combat various fevers (malaria, Yellow Fever), is to drain and dry
and puddles of water where mosquitoes breed.
The past winter, and the springtime now in its zenith, have brought
welcome accumulations of snow, sleet and rain, enough to end several
drought and also enough to provide a remarkable renewal of wetlands,
environmentalists consider to be vital to the survival of wildlife,
Hardly a week goes by that Virginians aren't reminded now to cherish
protect the State's wetlands and ... in obvious contradiction ...
to get rid of
accumulations of water where mosquitoes are apt to multiply and spread
Of course, there is yet no known way to alert mosquitoes not to lay
eggs in the most inviting wetlands, when the pools and puddles dry
up or are
On yet another front, environmental activists have spent years successfully
opposing the use of economically helpful sludge on local farmlands,
because of the metallic and chemical residues such sludge might retain
could run off the land and contaminate the Chesapeake Bay and its
Yet, in April the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay hailed as the greatest
imaginable to Bay and Atlantic Ocean health -- the dumping of a total
old "steel and aluminum" New York subway cars in three sites
off the coast of
the Eastern Shore and 14 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.
Just consider how the Alliance's monthly "Bay Journal"
describes the building
of a new Tower Reef, near the Chesapeake Light Tower that helps guide
shipping to and from the Bay:
"The subway cars join old tanks, Liberty ships, a 100-foot trawler,
concrete structures-even a missile launcher-as the latest reef-building
material. ... Bobbing for [a few] seconds in the 3-5 foot swells,
the cars puffed one
last blast of brown dirt as they vanished below the surface. ... Two
shipments of subway cars were placed earlier this year at the Blackfish
Parramore reef sites off the coast of Chincoteague and Wachapreague,
on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Should more cars become available, Virginia
them. There are no environmental issues."
We would wager that some of those puffs of "brown dirt"
from New York City's
underground are as full of contaminants as any ton of sludge that
applied to the soils of a farm in Heathsville, VA.
Yet sludge, used on farmland and as fill dirt elsewhere throughout
nation, would be a costly risk to the Bay's environment, say environmental
in Northumberland, Richmond and Lancaster counties -- BECAUSE, even
and EPA-approved sludge may contain remaining traces of metals, that
leak into tidal streams and Bay waters!
Shortly after mid-April, a Congressional committee began hearing pro
testimony on the Clinton Administration's Executive Order to ban "invasive
species." "Invasive" in this context simply means 'of
Japanese cherry trees in bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington,
this season of the year, come immediately to mind.
This is the "Mother of all Catch-22's." Nearly everything
in America other
than our soils, underground resources, mountains and plains may be
Even so-called "Native Americans" came from somewhere else.
In fact, the anthropological consensus is that all of us two-legged
mammalians originated in Africa.
However, in an effort to curtail the further spread of certain noxious
flowering marsh plants and animals such as the South American muskrat-like
nutria -- and a strange predator fish known as the "northern
snakehead," with an
appetite for whatever flourishes in ponds -- House and Senate committees
several bills on a "fast-track" toward enactment.
Representative Wayne Gilchrist (R-MD) seems especially supportive
legislative proposal, The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act of
2003. He says,
"Invasive species cost the country at least $138 billion each
year, and it is
a problem that will only expand and grow more costly, both environmentally
ecologically, if current law is not changed." To some degree,
The trouble that both scientists -- and many horticulturists, animal
and nurserymen of a somewhat more cautious bent -- have with the war
invasive species is that there are so many of them that are considered
nice to have around.
If Congress and the environmental lobbyists aren't careful and stick
sort of broad-brush ban on everything alien, which Clinton proposed,
dog-owners (most breeds are from foreign strains) may have to turn
their pets over to
federal agents, dig up and destroy half the flowers in their gardens,
away with just about any living flora or fauna that can be labeled
There are "invasive species" that are unquestionably harmful
forms of animal, bird or plant life. But there are many -- which are
admired and quite acceptable, even much needed, for instance -- in
the human food
What would help eliminate contradictions of this magnitude would
lists of harmful "invaders" -- and harmless ones.
Then, take it from there, so the vast number of species -- including
us -- could get one with our lives without fear of a Draconian expulsion
By the way, we're reasonably sure that Congressman Gilchrist and
environmental supporters are quite aware of the current Chesapeake
eagerness to distribute a million sterile Asian oysters (Crassostrea
to see if they can resist the diseases that have decimated the native
Chesapeake oyster population.
Discerning the good invaders from the bad ones is a way to make sense