Here's the deal.
In April 2003, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDACS) passed a rule making Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) a "Class C Noxious Weed." That means that in North Carolina the plant is illegal to be distributed and sold. The reason for this status is that the non-native plant can spread rapidly and without control, and transform native, rich ecosystems into a monoculture of Celastrus orbiculatus. This is another plant much like the more commonly known kudzu.
The NCDACS is considering creating an area in western NC where Celastrus orbiculatus could be sold. Why? Because some craftspeople like to use the stems (which bear colorful, viable seeds) as wreaths. The wreaths get bought, transported, displayed. The fruit inevitably fall off, or are eaten by birds, and the seeds are then spread to new areas.
Celastrus is not widely spread in western NC, but it has great potential. Furthermore, it could transform those areas that house rare carnivorous plants, such as Sarracenia jonesii and Sarracenia purpurea var. montana. The Sarracenia jonesii sites have been bought *by the NC Plant Conservation Program (run by, oddly enough, the NCDACS!), but even protected sites could be damaged by Celastrus orbiculatus. (Birds do not know they should not fly into protected areas if they have weed seeds in their guts.)
I hope I have managed to convince you that the NCDACS is making a mistake in creating an area in western NC where Celastrus orbiculatus could be sold. I encourage you to write to the following address:
Mr. Britt Cobb
North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
1001 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-1001
and voice your opinion on the issue. Please write politely, and without profanity or insults. Spell check your letter.
THE LETTER MUST BE RECEIVED BY 19 OCTOBER!