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Editorial in Vegas Paper Regarding Pupfish "Value"

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#1 mattknepley

  • NANFA Member
  • Smack-dab between the Savannah and the Saluda.

Posted 12 May 2018 - 09:04 AM

First off, as much as I disagree with the author's premise that Devil's Hole Pupfish are not worth saving, I find the approach interesting. The author cleverly leads us to view DHP as "not worth it" without ranting and coming off like a wingnut, thus providing a better chance for his message to be agreed with by middle of the roaders and uninformed folks.

Cynically, one may say this is just devious manipulation, and it may well have been intended as such. I know not the author at all to make that judgement. To step away from the cynical, I do appreciate the possibilities this type of editorial can serve as a dialog-opener. Those of us who understand why DHP are "worth it" can't get all outraged over this. If we pro-DHP types go off half-cocked (my instinctive action lately , I admit) over this then we relegate ourselves to unstable reactionary status. There is waaaay to much of this on all sides of the political spectrum anymore. I do not agree with the idea the author is leading to, but the question itself is legitimate and the type of question conservationists need to be able to answer not only in our hearts but in the minds of others. Some will never feel inside the intrinsic value to life as expressed in Norment's "Relict of a Beautiful Sea" (at least in the 51 pages I have read thus far)so a monetary defense ought to be made,at least to a degree. In the pathetic world of "reality politics" this country is sinking into, this is an opportunity to engage resource users in solution creation, not adversarial bullcrap. Politically, I have no dog in this fight. I view neither major political party as worthy of representing this country or her peoples. But this is a chance for those parties (and those entities who hold sway over them) to restore some credibility by increasing the amount of civility, reason, and cooperation found in the political process and make conservation, economics, and government relevant and complementary.

My two cents. Off to scrounge under the couch cushions for a couple more bucks for a cup of coffee. :)

Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

#2 gerald

  • Global Moderator
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 12 May 2018 - 04:21 PM

I have no good argument against his assertion about the DHP's "ecosystem value" being "practically none".  Unlike many other rare (and extinct) species which do (or did) interact with a wide range of other species across a wide landscape, loss of this one really wouldn't have much if any ecological significance beyond that one little (deep!) limestone cave.  Except for the much longer time-scale and more limited dispersal oppurtunities, desert pupfishes (as a group) are akin to amphibian populations that rely on vernal pools:  some dry up and die, others persist.  Leopold's often-quoted "keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering" seems like a weak argument when applied to the DHP.  Other perspectives?

Gerald Pottern
Hangin' on the Neuse
"Taxonomy is the diaper used to organize the mess of evolution into discrete packages" - M.Sandel

#3 Mysteryman

  • NANFA Guest

Posted 12 May 2018 - 08:30 PM

We are currently having a similar problem here in Huntsville, Alabama. 

A huge new Toyota factory is slated to be built pretty much right on top of the only place to find the Alabama Spring Pygmy Sunfish, Elassoma alabamae.


Naturally, it's an election year and the politicians are all scrambling to make sure that nothing stands in the way of getting that factory built, and they're quick to dismiss the value of this endangered fish. Now the race is on to get it officially listed with the Feds as Endangered before Toyota wipes them out, but there isn't any local Gov't support for making that happen.  They're all too busy making the same arguments that the fish has no value and isn't worth saving.

#4 lilyea

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  • Peace River Watershed, Central Florida, USA

Posted 13 May 2018 - 11:30 AM

....  They're all too busy making the same arguments that the fish has no value and isn't worth saving.



It is important to consider "what is value?"  Is it financial worth, relative desirability, utilitarian impact, or something else?  Additionally, I think it is also important to consider how to optimize the tensions between the financial, social, and environmental elements (especially in issues like this that seem to lead to intractable conflicts).

#5 fundulus

  • Global Moderator

Posted 13 May 2018 - 12:09 PM

The Spring Pygmy Sunfish has federal listing as Threatened, along with designated critical habitat from Fish & Wildlife. I live in Huntsville and I know that the current mayor, Tommy Battle, is despicable for a wide range of reasons including development everywhere at any cost. They want to bring in Toyota, or someone, with near-total no tax deals, and really, who cares if such a project destroys that spring system with the Spring Pygmies. It will be a tedious legal fight to protect both the species and especially the habitat. Without that habitat the Spring Pygmy is a dead fish swimming.
Bruce Stallsmith, Huntsville, Alabama, US of A

#6 harryknaub

  • NANFA Member

Posted 18 May 2018 - 09:33 AM

Personally, I have always taken the point-of-view that science should not necessarily be assigned a monetary value. You're not only tying to quantify what you don't know but what you don't know you don't know. I remember a couple decades ago hearing people complain about state budgets assigning money to study honey bees and what a waste of money that was. Now, here we are in the midst of Colony Collapse Syndrome and those same people don't even understand how valuable the information gained in those previous studies can be to our agricultural systems. Knowledge in general and science in particular can not and should not be quantified monetarily.


Sounds like I'm running for something, doesn't it. Just spouting off. Banish the money-changers from the Temple that is our planet.

between the Waccamaw and the ocean

#7 mattknepley

  • NANFA Member
  • Smack-dab between the Savannah and the Saluda.

Posted 24 May 2018 - 08:40 PM

Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

#8 Irate Mormon

Irate Mormon
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  • Crooked Creek, Mississippi

Posted 26 May 2018 - 05:15 PM

Both make pretty weak arguments.  People are either fer it or agin' it, and not liable to change their minds.

-The member currently known as Irate Mormon

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