SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE PASSES S.B. 689 ON CACTUS RUSTLING
April 20, 2007
"In the West, cactus rustlers are stealing rare state treasures, like the Texas Rainbow and Golden Barrel, and taking them to Arizona and California for yards. We need to protect these rare and vulnerable cacti from theft, and protect our Chihuahua Desert environment."
Written by Senator Eliot Shapleigh, www.shapleigh.org
AUSTIN - El Paso desert plants are one step closer to protection from illegal harvesting after today's hearing by the Senate Natural Resources Committee on S.B. 689. The committee passed the bill.
"In the West, cactus rustlers are stealing rare state treasures, like the Texas Rainbow and Golden Barrel, and taking them to Arizona and California for yards," said Senator Shapleigh. "We need to protect these rare and vulnerable cacti from theft, and protect our Chihuahua Desert environment."
S.B. 689 seeks to curb the illegal harvesting of desert plants by directing the Texas Department of Agriculture to administer and adopt rules necessary to enforce a system of regulation to ensure that certain endangered desert plants sold in, or being transported out of, Texas have been legally harvested.
The current trend in home and commercial landscaping toward xeriscaping, a water-conserving landscaping method, combined with tough Arizona and New Mexico laws regulating the desert plant trade, have made the West Texas desert area a prime target for the illegal harvesting of cacti and other desert plants. Both public and private lands are being stripped of their desert plants by individuals who have not obtained permission to harvest. This has the dual effect of damaging the delicate desert ecosystem and costing private landowners untold sums in lost possible revenues.
A recent study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund concludes that some of the plants "may become threatened and even disappear locally if conservation measures are not implemented."
S.B. 689 protects desert plants by requiring individuals who harvest and sell the plants to provide one of the following:
- Proof that the plants to be sold or transported will be harvested from the person's own land,
- Written documentation from the owner of the property from which the plants will be harvested granting the person seeking registration permission to harvest the plants.
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