In Maine, the legislation would help further naturally occurring plant species in places like Acadia National Park
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Maria Cantwell announced that the Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act, bipartisan legislation they co-authored to promote the use of native plants, was signed into law as part of the fiscal year 2023 government funding package.
The law will 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 program will help to prevent the spread of invasive species, preserve biodiversity, and reap the numerous benefits local flora provide to wildlife, human health, and the environment. The law will also direct the Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management to submit a report to Congress on the results of this new pilot program and the cost-effectiveness of using native plants within their respective units.
“Maine’s abundant natural resources are among our state’s greatest treasures, providing a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and attracting millions of visitors each year. Preserving native plant species in Acadia National Park is key to protecting our state’s scenic beauty, cultural heritage, and environmental health for future generations,” said Senator Collins. “Our legislation will 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.”
“Native plants play a vital role in protecting our shared public lands. Bringing more native plants back will help us combat invasive species, provide food and shelter for local wildlife, and adapt to the looming threat of climate change,” said Senator Cantwell.
“To help 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 on public lands and in our communities.” said Debbie Oliver, President of The Garden Club of America, with 199 member clubs in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and 18,000 club members. “What better partner in this work than the National Park System? The bill recently passed into law, thanks to the unwavering commitment of Senators Collins and Cantwell, will inform a government-wide approach to the use of native plant species across all our public lands.”
“Native plants are the foundation of healthy ecosystems in our national parks and public lands,” said Eric Stiles, President of Friends of Acadia. “Friends of Acadia is grateful to Senator Collins and her colleagues for recognizing the importance of native plants and investing in pilot programs to demonstrate their value.”
Some of the myriad advantages of native plants include:
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.