How Much Does It Cost To Move A Plant? If You Are The Government, $205,075.

Photo: Michael Chasse/National Park Service.

As part of Obama’s “Shovel Ready” projects, taxpayers are partially funding the Presidio Park Project in San Fransisco, California. The $1.045 billion dollar project will help alleviate congestion in the area of the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as make the roadway less susceptible to seismic damage.

The August 10, 2010 Federal Register reported an ecologist had reported seeing a plant known as “Arctostaphylos franciscana,” or a “Franciscan manzanita” bush. The bush is a low growing bush that according to one source, can be purchased at most local home and garden centers for about $16.00. But what made this specimen special was that it was found growing naturally in a median of the street the Presidio Park Project would renovate. Not only that, but the “Franciscan manzanita” was thought to be extinct in “the wild” even though it had previously could be found in much of San Francisco.

Eager to protect the plant, an agreement between different agencies was reached on relocating the bush. For most of us, that would be getting a shovel, digging the thing up, putting it on a truck, taking it to a new location, digging a hole, putting the bush in the hole, fill in the dirt, water and watch plant grow.

But we are not the government.

Shortly thereafter, the Presidio Trust, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish and Game developed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for saving this one bush from the highway project, for which ground had been broken in December 2009.

The agreement of Dec. 21, 2009 – Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Planning, Development, and Implementation of the Conservation Plan for Franciscan Manzanita – explains how, why, and when the bush would be moved and which agencies would be responsible for which aspects of the move. (MOA – Fran Man – 2009.pdf)

While the MOA did not detail all the costs for moving the bush, it did state that in addition to funding removal and transportation of the Franciscan manzanita, Caltrans agreed to transfer $79,470 to the Presidio Trust “to fund the establishment, nurturing, and monitoring of the Mother Plant in its new location for a period not to exceed ten (10) years following relocation and two (2) years for salvaged rooted layers and cuttings according to the activities outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

Furthermore, Presidio Parkway Project spokesperson Molly Graham told that the “hard removal”—n.b. actually digging up the plant, putting it on a truck, driving it somewhere else and replanting it–cost $100,000.

The MOA also stated that Caltrans agreed to “Transfer $25,605.00 to the Trust to fund the costs of reporting requirements of the initial 10-year period as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

The $100,000 to pay for the “hard removal,” the $79,470 to pay for the “establishment, nurturing and monitoring” of the plant for a decade after its “hard removal,” and the $25,605 to cover the “reporting requirements” for the decade after the “hard removal,” equaled a total cost of $205,075 for “translocating” this manzanita bush. (emphasis ours)

In addition to the moving costs of the plant, additional charges include $7,025 for genetic or chromosomal testing, the contracting of a “qualified manzanita expert” to monitor the plant for a period of five years, funding not to exceed $5,000 to take growth from the mother plant to propagate the species again and a fund not to exceed $1500 to gather at least 300 seeds from the mother plant.

All this for a plant.

But the real kicker is that the plant can’t be taken to a plant nursery or a botanical garden. If they did that – if they placed the plant in a space where it could receive the care and attention it needed – it would no longer be considered “in the wild,” and it is that “in the wild” status that makes it “endangered.” So the plant is somewhere, hidden from people (in case they would damage it) in a fenced in area that is considered “the wild.”

How ridiculous is that?

Aren’t you proud to pay taxes to support this kind of spending?

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