A Fight to Control Plant Species

There is more to the matter than affording politicians a cheap shot in the article ``Texas War Over Warbler,'' Sept. 22.

The ``critical habitat'' proposed for the golden-cheeked warbler is the Texas Hill Country, a region that is in no danger of being designated an agriculturally bountiful place to try to make a living. Farmers and ranchers here can only hope, under the best of conditions, to make their land reasonably productive by persistently fighting to control two invading plant species - mesquite and cedar.

The underlying problem is a lack of communication between those who would protect endangered species and those who hope to make a living on agricultural property that might be designated ``habitat'' by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. A ``habitat'' designation is feared by a land owner because it may result in a reduction of property value; it is equally a matter of concern because property taxes in Texas fund most state and community services.

My place is located in a relatively benign section of the Hill Country, but I must devote much energy to fighting mesquite, which is an efficient competitor with native grasses for moisture and fertility. The local personnel of the National Audubon Society are correct to worry that the federal government's handling of this matter may well hurt endangered species in the long run. Richard R. McTaggart, Menard, Texas,

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115

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