Dear ASPT members,
As many of you are aware, USDA-APHIS regulations regarding the importation of plant materials into the United States have tightened in recent years, notably as they are applied to herbarium specimens. This has engendered some confusion and definitely frustration among collection managers who deal with specimen shipments from outside the US. ASPT member Melanie Schori at USDA-GRIN has been instrumental in helping us get our voices heard (thanks Melanie!). ASPT member Aaron Liston and others have crafted a survey for herbarium curators regarding our experiences with receiving shipments of specimens into the US that will be submitted to APHIS (thanks Aaron!). We have good reason to believe that APHIS is committed to accommodating our needs as best it can. If you manage a collection, I urge you to participate in this survey. If you are a US-based researcher who depends on specimen loans or shipments of material collected outside the US, I urge you convince your home herbarium to participate in the survey. And, if you manage a collection outside of the US and have experienced frustration with US specimen import regulations, please let me know and I will find the right channel to pass on your concerns. Below you will find the information about the survey distributed by Melanie.
Thanks for your involvement in this important issue!
[email from Melanie Schori (USDA-APHIS) to Herbaria Listserv]
Dear Curators and permit holders,
This is your chance to send feedback to APHIS regarding import permits for herbarium specimens. Aaron Liston has graciously prepared a feedback form, which can be accessed here: https://oregonstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6sAX4OwF8b1rpFb
The attached PDF has a copy of the form to assist you with gathering data. You may have to dig through files or emails to find all the information, so I'd suggest preparing a document with your feedback before you click on the link so you can copy and paste your information as appropriate.
The form is lengthy, but the goal is to provide APHIS with enough detail to shape future permit policies regarding herbarium specimens so that policies better reflect the nature and importance of the material. This might be your only opportunity as a curator or permit holder to offer directed feedback, so please take the time to participate. Any comments submitted to APHIS will become official government records, so please remember to use appropriate language even when describing any difficulties you might have had in obtaining permits.
The link will remain active until the end of September, and I will send several reminders before then.
Thank you for your anticipated participation!