Opinion

An Eastern view

You’ll all be glad to know that the people of Puget Sound will be able to sleep a little easier tonight. The legislature has given them the right to protect themselves from dreaded attacks by ... Sea Lettuce. For those of you who haven’t heard, Sea Lettuce is a native species that has become more abundant around the Sound in recent years. The problem is that it grows profusely, then dies off, leaving a stinking mess that threatens the health, safety and welfare of the residents in waterfront mansions. I can tell you, the legislators from the areas hardest hit by this invasion showed up with blood in their eyes and murder in their hearts. Sea Lettuce has got to die, they said, and we don’t care how.

Now, these are the same urban legislators who told rural residents overrun with cougars that we had to “learn to live with cougars,” to somehow peacefully co-exist. I was shocked at this knee-jerk reaction; these people have a little trouble with Sea Lettuce, and they immediately want to kill it? I felt compelled to offer other solutions, something along the lines of how they wanted us to deal with cougars. Couldn’t we explore non-lethal means of dealing with wayward Sea Lettuce? Couldn’t we trap the Sea Lettuce and relocate it? No, they said, it would just cause problems elsewhere. Well, what about a pamphlet? The WDFW tried to solve the cougar problem for years with a little pamphlet entitled “Living With Cougars,” which was full of handy suggestions on what to do in the event of a cougar attack. Couldn’t we have them prepare a “Living With Sea Lettuce” pamphlet and try that approach for, say, 10 years or so? NO, they said, this stuff is aggravating us and we want it DEAD, NOW. Well, so much for the live-and-let-live reputation of Seattle-area residents.

So I tried another tactic, pointing out that Sea Lettuce is a native species, an essential part of the ecosystem, a vital part of the delicate web of life and essential to saving the planet. “Damn the planet,” they said. “We want this stuff dead!” I gave it one last try, pointing out that this is a native species that has lived here for thousands of years. Now these wealthy corporate types have moved into the Sea Lettuces’ territory, or Critical Habitat. The Sea Lettuce was here first, and the beach dwellers should know that conflicts with Sea Lettuce were just part of the cost of doing business.

By now, these folks were furious, and their response was priceless. They told me that I had no business telling them how to deal with Sea Lettuce, that I didn’t live on the beach or even in the area, that I had no understanding of the threats of Sea Lettuce and that this was a local matter that should be solved by the local people most impacted.

I told them: Thank you. You just made my point, whether it’s Sea Lettuce or cougars.

Rep. Joel Kretz represents the 7th Congressional District in eastern Washington. He grew up on the Island and graduated from Mercer Island High School.

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