the need for more, not less, scientific collecting

Hugh D. Wilson wilson at BIO.TAMU.EDU
Thu Dec 5 07:31:09 CST 1996

WRT Dennis Paulson's comments on collecting in Texas (below) are,
from my experience, true - but a bit overstated.  Private property is a
'big deal' down here, as indicated by the recent purge of the Texas
Natural Heritage Program, and this can be expressed by some
individual landowners - sometimes in a fairly 'direct' manner.  I
think that the State is undercollected WRT vascular plant county
records, but this is not - in my view - a function of lack of access
to the flora.  Most landowners are interested in the local biota and
collecting here - in most cases - simply requires obtaining
permission; something that should be done when working on private
property in any State.  Texas certainly needs more collecting if
documented (vouchered) distributions are an objective and this,  I
think, should focus on public lands/natural areas (state, municipal
parks, etc.) in that these areas offer greater potential ecological
stability over the long term.

> When I visited Texas a few years ago, I travelled through the eastern and
> central parts of the state, enjoying the natural scene, but I soon learned
> that the *only* public land anywhere over large areas was in the state park
> system, with a few national wildlife refuges on the coast.  Everything else
> was private, behind intimidating barbwire fences.  Almost nowhere we
> stopped could we go beyond the barbwire line ("without getting shot," one
> acquaintance told me), including places that just cried out to be explored.
> The owner of a given parcel of land was rarely obvious, if we had wanted
> to ask permission to enter, and people advised me very strongly against
> trespassing.  It was clear in my mind that I would avoid applying for a job
> as a museum curator in Texas (anyone in Texas have a response?).

Hugh D. Wilson
Texas A&M University - Biology
h-wilson at (409-845-3354)

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