proper identifications

Thu Oct 24 08:15:08 CDT 1996

Estimados amigos,
   Continuing on Dale Parker's thread about proper identifications
in ecological surveys, an additional concern of mine is that some
vegetation surveys are being conducted be people not motivated to
do things correctly.
   A case in point is some work I did in Washington State (USA) in
1992. I was hired as acting herbarium director at Washington State
University in 1991 on a temporary one-year contract. Just before my
contract expired, we received a telephone call from a realtor in
Idaho looking for a trained botanist for vegetation surveys. He
requested someone with a master's, but since they were offering rather
good money I volunteered to do it myself. The Bureau of Land Management
(BLM, an agency of the federal government controlling large tracts
of land in the western US) owned several small parcels of land in
Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. The BLM wanted to sell these small
parcels and buy larger ones which it could manage more efficiently.
Federal law mandated that before the BLM could sell federal property
a botanist had to be hired to ensure the land did not contain any
threatened or endangered species.
   The realtors anticipated gaining quite a bit of money from
selling the land to lumber companies. They were rather dismayed
when they saw my enthusiasm, actively hoping for the thrill of
finding an unknown population of some rare species. What they
really wanted was someone to glance around the plot for a few
minutes and sign a statement saying, "Gee, I didn't find anything."
My enthusiasm for doing things right ran counter to their needs.
At least they did not object to me spelling scientific names
correctly in my reports.

"There are two secrets to success. The first is not telling
everything you know."

Dr. Joseph E. Laferriere

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