"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Maryland Man Fined $50 for Picking Berries in a Park

Retard Alert
Murderers and rapists roam the streets.  
But Big Brother is worried you might eat a berry.

(Reason)  -  To me, nothing screams summer like picking and eating fresh berries. I know I'm not alone. Greg Visscher, head of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Young Republicans Club, has been picking berries with his family for years.

So it was with some degree of surprise that Visscher found himself confronted last month by a trio of county park police officers and handed a $50 ticket for "destroying/interfering with plants to wit: berries. Without a permit on park property."
The idea that the mere act of picking berries from a plant can be equated with "destroying" or "interfering with" a plant is bizarre. Picking berries (or tomatoes or apples, beans, peppers, or any other fruit or vegetable) does no harm to the flora upon which the food grows. The county's claimed need for a permit was news to Visscher—and to me. I live in Montgomery County, and just the day before Visscher was ticketed, I had picked raspberries in the county park nearest my home.

I've spoken at length with Visscher by email, both for this column and for a book I'm writing that focuses in part on food laws that prohibit sustainable food practices like picking wild berries. Visscher tells me was picking raspberries in Wheaton Regional Park, a public space near where I live in Bethesda, when an officer approached him and issued him the aforementioned $50 citation. Two more officers soon appeared. Visscher also tells me the police made reference to a need to obtain a nebulous "permit" for harvesting berries—both verbally and on the ticket itself—a permit neither Visscher nor I have been able to identify.
I spoke this week with Lt. Rick Pelicano of the park police, who had no information on Visscher's ticket or on the need for a foraging permit. Lt. Pelicano pointed me to the relevant rules, which pertain to a county prohibition on  "destroy[ing] or interfer[ing] in any way with any... plants" on public property.
Tickets like the one Visscher received are rare.
"Charges under this section are infrequent," Pelicano told me by email. "Researching the last year we found three incidents that were cited related to this. Two resulted in a citation [while] one was a written warning."
How could Visscher—or I—know that the county views picking some berries without a permit as verboten?
"There is no sign anywhere saying that berries cannot be harvested," Visscher tells me. "To my knowledge, there is nothing in the park that even highlights this." I could not locate any such signage on a visit to the park on Thursday. A park staffer I spoke with could not point me to any.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From a plant reproduction viewpoint, the berries are designed to be eaten by animals and the seeds spat out. So from a biological viewpoint, the Park Police are interfering with the reproduction of the plants, by preventing the fruit from being dispersed.