Washington, D.C. – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced the Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to promote the use of native plants. In an effort to preserve biodiversity and reap the numerous benefits local flora provide to wildlife, human health, and the environment, the bill would create a new pilot program at the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management to support the use of native plants, including in areas that have experienced a recent wildfire event. The bill would also direct the Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management to review existing data and study the cost-effectiveness of using native plants within their respective units.
“Maine’s natural beauty and cultural history are among our state’s greatest treasures, attracting millions of visitors each year,” said Senator Collins. “I’m pleased that the Committee has advanced our Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act, which would encourage the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management to protect Maine’s native plants such as blueberry barrens, white pines, and wildflowers, as well as prevent the future spread of invasive species across the U.S.”
“The Garden Club of America highly commends Senators Collins and Cantwell for their unwavering commitment to native plants,” said Debbie Oliver, President of the Garden Club of America. “In order to support wildlife, to protect the biodiversity of our ecosystems and to improve the health of our planet, we need to adopt policies that promote the use of native plants in our communities. What better place to start than in our National Parks and public lands? The legislation being advanced will do just that.”
“We’re excited to see the Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act progressing through the Senate,” said Eric Stiles, President of Friends of Acadia. “Native plants are critical to healthy park ecosystems. Investing in programs that use native plants is a valuable way to ensure that national parks and other public lands remain vital landscapes as the climate changes.”
Some of the myriad advantages of native plants include:
- Requiring fewer pesticides and fertilizers;
- Requiring less water and maintenance since they have adapted to local weather conditions;
- Providing shelter and food for local wildlife; and
- Preventing disruption to native wildlife and larger ecosystems.
In order to maintain these benefits, native plants need help to confront threats such as non-native pests, non-native plants, diseases, and a changing climate. Of the 20,000 known native plant species in North America, it has been estimated that approximately 30 percent are at risk of extinction as a result of factors such as habitat loss, invasive species, temperature shifts, and pesticide use.
U.S. Representatives Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08), Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), Bennie Thompson (D-MS-02), and Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
Click HERE to watch the full committee business meeting and view the text of the bill.