As I was browsing through some obscure news stories last week, I stumbled across one from San Francisco that both interested and infuriated me. It seems that our government (you and me, the taxpayers) recently spent more than $200,000 of our money to transplant a single shrub from the path of a proposed superhighway to an undisclosed plant sanctuary where, mind you, tens of thousands more dollars will be spent to assure it lives the rest of its life in secret safety.
This particular piece of shrubbery is the last known of its kind growing in the wild, although nurseries in California grow them by the thousands for landscaping purposes and they can be purchased almost anywhere in that state for $10 to $20 each. Lost in the headline of “Last Known Wild Plant of its Kind” is the fact that nobody, nada, zero persons are out looking for these wild plants in the area because they are found by the thousands in yards and commercial landscapes in that region.
This news story so upset me that I fired off a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior, not to complain about an obvious waste of tax money, but to inform the agency of a rare and threatened plant located on my farm – the Crownover Musk Thistle.
In my letter, I explained that this plant is nothing like the common musk thistle found on adjoining farms of my neighbors, but an obvious genetic mutation into a “super thistle” that has evolved through the centuries to become a larger, tougher and more menacing plant than has ever existed in nature before now. The plant is resistant to any presently known chemicals and chopping them down with a hoe only causes them to sprout dozens of other plants from a single stem. I proceeded to explain to the agency that in spite of their amazing heartiness and prolific ability to reproduce, it might only take a single event or yet undiscovered pest to completely eliminate this rare species from the vegetative world and I, as a concerned citizen, did not want to take this chance, so…
“I invite your scientists to come to my farm and remove this endangered plants from the natural florae of my farm and transplant them to some government-owned eco-system where they will be safe, and can be monitored and nurtured by you specialists for eternity.”
I went on to suggest that, even though the monetary worth of these Crownover Musk Thistles is probably into the millions, I would allow them to retrieve the few thousand plants still in existence for a mere $10 each, providing the extraction process does not disrupt the other crops and grasses on my acreage. I realize this is a huge sacrifice on my part, but that’s just the kind of person I am.
I am eagerly awaiting a response to my letter and feel certain that in the near future, a convoy of trucks and workers will appear in my driveway to begin the tedious, but immensely important task, of transplanting these rare thistles from my farm to an undisclosed location where they can be adequately protected in a manner that will ensure that future generations may enjoy the same satisfaction that I have been able to appreciate over the years.
Not that the federal government has done anything to cause mistrust, suspicion or cynicism among the American people, but, to protect my interests, I must mandate that the payment be in the form of cash, certified check or money order before the operation begins. God Bless America.
Jerry Crownover is a farmer and former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry about his books, or to arrange speaking engagements, you may contact him by calling 1-866-532-1960 or visiting and clicking on ‘Contact Us.’


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