Remember the snail darter? It made national headlines in the mid-1970s when water impoundments on the Little Tennessee River behind the nearly completed Tellico dam project threatened to eradicate the only known population of the small fish – which was included on the endangered species list at the time. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the justices initially sided with the fish. Subsequently, the Fish and Wildlife Service rescinded the designation of the Tellico dam area as a critical habitat for the snail darter because the fish apparently tired of the stress and controversy and moved elsewhere; its classification was changed from endangered to threatened after other populations of the fish were found elsewhere in the Tennessee River. Only in America.
Fast-forward to 2010 – still in America. The federal government spent at least $205,075 to “translocate” a single bush in San Francisco that stood in the path of a $1 billion highway-renovation project that was partially funded by the Obama Regime’s “stimulus” package. Yep, just like the snail darter, the shrub stood between progress and lunacy. Thank God, cool heads prevailed and the poor little bush was rescued. Wonder why the O-man didn’t hold an “I killed bin Laden”-style news conference to announce how he bravely – and single-handedly – saved the bush? (with his bare hands.) Only in America 2.0.
From the Aug. 10, 2010 edition of the Federal Register:
In October 2009, an ecologist identified a plant growing in a concrete-bound median strip along Doyle Drive in the Presidio as Arctostaphylos franciscana. The plant’s location was directly in the footprint of a roadway improvement project designed to upgrade the seismic and structural integrity of the south access to the Golden Gate Bridge. The translocation of the Arctostaphylos franciscana plant to an active native plant management area of the Presidio was accomplished, apparently successfully and according to plan, on January 23, 2010.
No word on whether the shrub entered a 12-step translocation therapy program due to the obvious stress caused by its removal from the concrete median strip.
By the way, the bush - a Franciscan manzanita – was a specimen of a commercially cultivated species of shrub that can be purchased from nurseries for $16. The particular plant in question, however, was determined to be the last example of the species in the “wild.” Only in America 3.0.
Setting aside the ridiculousness for a moment – if you’re like me, you’re wondering how in the hell it could possibly cost $205, 075 to move a bush, right? Here’s the breakdown:
The Presidio Trust, (which oversees the area where the bush was discovered), the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish and Game developed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for saving the single bush from the highway project:
Caltrans transferred $79,470 to the Presidio Trust “to fund the establishment, nurturing, and monitoring of the Mother Plant in its new location for a period not to exceed ten years following relocation and two years for salvaged rooted layers and cuttings according to the activities outlined in the Conservation Plan.” A Presidio Parkway Project spokesman reported that the “hard removal” – digging up the plant, putting it on a truck, driving it somewhere else and replanting it – cost $100,000. Caltrans further agreed to “Transfer $25,605 to the Trust to fund the costs of reporting requirements of the initial 10-year period as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”
Lest you think the costs ended with the “translocation,” think again; the MOA provided for these additional expenses:
- Funding not to exceed $7,025 for initial genetic or chromosomal testing of the Mother Plant by a qualified expert to be selected at the discretion of Caltrans.
- Unspecified funds for the “input, guidance, and advice of a ‘qualified Manzanita expert’ on an as-needed basis to support the tending of the Mother Plant for a period not to exceed five years.”
- Funding not to exceed $5,000 to each of 3 botanical gardens to nurture salvaged rooted layers and to monitor and report findings as outlined in the “Conservation Plan.”
- Funding not to exceed $1,500 for the long-term seed storage of 300 seeds collected around the Mother Plant in November 2009 as outlined in the “Conservation Plan.”
Want your very own Arctostaphylos franciscana? You can pick one up at Las Pilitas Nursery for 16 bucks.
The poor little snail darter should have had it so good.