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A Statement from the SMART Board of Directors

In Texas, we are proud to have formed a massive coalition of over 300,000 members to assist in creating a healthier system of aquatic vegetation management. Our organization is called Sensible Management of Aquatic Resources Team (SMART). SMART consists of all major bass fishing organizations, conservation and environmental groups in Texas. This coalition was formed because of a strong common belief that herbicides used in fresh water drinking systems and the destruction of aquatic habitat through the use of these chemicals is destroying our natural heritage and the health of our citizens.
SMART members are working with legislators to provide Texas with new laws that will assist in creating management plans that offer cleaner water and a better future for all of our state's inhabitants. While there are many more issues to address, great strides toward success have already occurred, not the least of which is a demonstration to politicians and fisheries agencies of the number of people who seek a healthy environment.
Management doesn't have to include the wholesale poisoning of aquatic vegetation at all costs, with chemicals that will be retained in the bodies of humans that consume the water from that source. SMART members believe that all other methods of non-lethal controls must be exhausted prior to use of chemicals. Alternative methods available offer cleaner water and protect, not destroy habitat.
We, as an organization, and as individuals are offended by the interference of national organizations that do little to cloak their approval of chemical use and have hidden ties among those who create these poisons.
The National Conservation Director of BASS© Bruce Shupp, published a commentary in the May 1999 issue of BASS Times that is an insult to the integrity of the work that has been done by members of SMART. In his commentary Shupp discussed a "steering committee" that will meet in the year 2000. According to his statements, "… the output from that event will form the basis for the plant management decision-making guidelines, and for the research funding strategies [supposedly for the entire nation]." It is commendable for BASS to take an interest in the very volatile issue of aquatic plant management, but their choice of steering committee members offers little hope for less chemical use. Participants named include representatives of SePro Company, the makers of Sonar and Texas Parks and Wildlife. The thought may have been that a person from TP&W could help to sway Texan's thoughts on the subject of chemicals, but it was a choice made with obviously little research. Others listed are pro-chemical use advocates. Non-partisan this committee is not. No doubt, their findings will conclude that chemical use must continue.
Shupp went on to discuss "false issues and misinformation" and stated basically that anglers are paranoid, but that fisheries departments had not made mistakes, they merely failed to, "… adequately consider the values of all the stakeholders." Excuse Texans while we just say, "Conroe."
"National protection" from this specially selected group of handpicked individuals who have past, and present, histories of chemical tolerance and promotion brings no good news to our state. Texans will get much cleaner water without that kind of interference. With all due respect, the officials at BASS - particularly their conservation specialists seem to be out of touch with what the public wants.
We're not going to go away. The chemical companies can't buy us. We're not for sale. Water body authorities won't quietly be allowed to continue to pollute with poisons. We want clean, healthy water and we want habitat preserved.
Though some people would have you believe otherwise, chemical companies aren't interested in the welfare of fresh water or fish habitat. They do not produce poisons for our salvation from exotic aquatic vegetation because they are philanthropists. They are interested in making the billions of dollars that supply big salaries for themselves and the puppets they buy.
Shupp's commentary stated that aquatic plant management, "… is a program in chaos." The only chaos in aquatic plant management is the poison advocates, sellers and makers fighting to save big-buck sales.
Studies have revealed that at least 40 percent of the fresh water on our planet is un-swimmable and un-fishable. If one cannot swim in water, why on earth would one want to drink it? If chemical companies have not played a major role in the polluting of this water through run-off and directly with aquatic herbicides, who did?
Shupp's commentary did have one thing right. No one is more deeply involved or cares more about this issue than bass anglers. Sadly, some of the folks who claim to represent bass anglers aren't listening to the voices of the people they are supposed to represent even though a large majority are calling for reduced or no chemical use.
Texans do not need national policy changes to "protect" us, except perhaps to protect us from those with continued aspirations of chemical use to control aquatic vegetation.
"We've been bombarded with chemicals. They're in the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe," says Ed Parten president of TBBU (Texas Black Bass Unlimited) and board member of SMART. "I am convinced that its money talking through the individual that dictates the stand taken in Shupp's article. It's a slap in the faces of all of us who have labored here in Texas to protect our natural resources."
"It seems the thrust of Shupp's article in BASS Times is to discredit the efforts and message of SMART," says President and editor of Honey Hole Magazine Jerry Dean, also a board member of SMART.
"Chemical proponents are rightly afraid that SMART's awareness campaign will spread outside the borders of our own state. And so it shall. People are realizing that valuable resources need protection. The members of SMART have hopes that officials at BASS will re-evaluate conservation leadership and return to basic principles the original founder Ray Scott intended."
From Bill Bales, president of TABC (Texas Association of Bass Clubs) and SMART board member, we hear this. "I am ashamed of anyone who would be so quick to get in the back pocket of the chemical connections. If they truly want to represent anglers they should go to the anglers for answers, not the people with every reason to want chemical use to continue. The experts have had control for years and it hasn't gotten any better. I am happy we have the organizations we do here in Texas. We won't fall over and play dead for the chemical companies."
President of SMART, David Stewart agrees. "Millions of people worldwide have come to the conclusion that our existence depends on a cleaner environment. We want some straight answers as to why some of our leaders fail to see that herbicides aren't necessary to anyone's welfare except those who reap the benefits from sales."
According to University of Florida specialist S.H. Kay, aquatic plants do not threaten the viability of aquatic systems in most circumstances. "Only when their growth begins to have a negative impact on human activities is it considered to be weedy." The interpretation is that it is merely a human conception that aquatic vegetation is noxious, depending on location. The largest source of overgrowth complaint is from landowners around lakes. But landowners do not own public water.
The only viable problem from aquatic vegetation overgrowth occurs in power plant lakes where water intakes require controlled pH and plants can alter water properties.
In the study by Kay it is clearly stated that all weed management practices can be expected to have an impact on the environment. Beyond the impact of herbicides, the presence of decaying vegetation following application can result in general water quality deterioration and excessive algal blooms.
Fish kills and habitat destruction in target areas, don't just result from residual chemicals in the water body, but can occur as a side effect from their use.
Even the federal government doesn't want to be held liable for chemical treatments. According to a review done by the government at the same time 2-4-D was developed for use on water hyacinth, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided 70 percent of the funding to purchase the herbicide. But local governments were required to, "… hold and save harmless" the federal government from claims that might occur from operation. Figures from government resources indicate that reclamation and recovery costs result in billions of dollars of expense. In turn, applicators now seek a $2 million cap on liability costs, a drop in the bucket compared to the damage that can be done.
Aquatic herbicides add to non-point loads of pollution. Non-point pollution causes eutrophication, which results in oxygen depletion. Fish living in water that is low or devoid of oxygen must leave the area or perish. Along with other non-point sources such as urban run-off and acid rain, this type of pollution is the most difficult for scientists to analyze. It is not surprising that herbicide use is being questioned.
"These caustic chemicals have numerous harmful effects to humans, animals and fish," says Lyle Haas, president of the TVA Clean Waters Association in Scottsboro, Alabama.
Haas, a retired 26-year veteran with the Alabama Health Department, said the Center for Health Statistics reveal that since 1976 the rate of cancer deaths in DeKalb, Marshall and Jackson counties has jumped 49 percent.
Longtime aquatic environmental activist Ray Scott, founder of BASS, says, "The best plans are for management and controls that provide healthy conditions for the lakes, the fish and other animals that rely on the habitat, and the humans. I don't believe poisons are healthy. They kill, that's why they have danger warnings all over the packaging."
In closing, SMART members beseech Texas Parks and Wildlife and other water body authorities in this state to reject plant management theories from those who reap benefit from chemical money. Our state will prosper, our lakes will be cleaner, and all creatures will live healthier lives. We ask that you look not at the labels on chemical poisons for answers. Do not continue down the path of destruction through chemical barrage. Look to the sky and water in their resplendent glory. Keep our state clean and healthy and you, too, will reap the benefits of a beautiful world.
Lastly, and finally, with all due respect to national organizations such as BASS and conservation director Bruce Shupp, we ask you to leave Texas out of your "plans." You appear to have failed to hear the message of chemical rejection from literally millions of people, including the Texas BASS Federation - your own people who are members of SMART. We are not certain what causes your hearing loss, but we are SMART enough to recognize the sounds of destruction at the cost of our fisheries and our health.

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Last modified: Sunday, October 15, 2015

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