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Native Plants Gain National Recognition

 

April 22, 2021

April Is National Native Plant Month

In 2019, two GCA club members from Ohio were instrumental in securing passage of an Ohio law that designated the month of April as Ohio Native Plant Month. This legislation made Ohio one of the first states in the country to have an entire month dedicated to native plants. Building on this success, these two club members created a workshop titled "Making Your Voice Heard" to help others learn how to effect legislative change.  

Their website www.OhioNativePlantMonth.org provides information on native plants and aims to spread the word about the importance of native plants and pollinators. More recently, Ohio garden club members worked with Senators Rob Portman (Ohio R) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii D) to pass a resolution making April National Native Plant Month. The bi-partisan resolution recognizes the importance of native plants to environmental conservation and restoration, as well as supporting diverse wildlife. 

“The Garden Club of America commends Senators Portman and Hirono for introducing a resolution that would designate April as National Native Plant Month. Our ecosystem benefits from native plants – stabilizing soil, filtering water, cleaning air, and supporting wildlife. Once these plants become established, they require less watering and need no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides to thrive. They also preserve the natural history of the flora and fauna of the American landscape,” said Debbie Edwards, president, The Garden Club of America. 

In addition to these efforts, new legislation has recently been introduced by both U.S. Congress and Senate members focusing on promoting the use of native plants. The Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act would create a new pilot program at the National Park Service to support the use of native plants, and would direct the Park Service to review existing data and study the cost-effectiveness of using native plants. The Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act has been endorsed by The Garden Club of America.

The introduction of both legislations is timely. Today marks the fifty-first anniversary of Earth Day, an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, it now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

From the time of its founding, The Garden Club of America has been an active force in the promotion of environmental awareness and the preservation of natural resources. The Conservation Committee, one of the GCA’s earliest committees, and club members worked together at the highest levels in Washington DC on behalf of parks, to promote wildflower and native plant preservation, and to improve roadsides by restricting billboards. Many GCA club members were active in the 1930s in the battle to save the redwoods. Recent accomplishments include the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act and the announcement  of thirty-four new Scenic Byways and All American Roads by the Federal Highway Administration. In both instances, the GCA has played an active and significant role.

Pictured: Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed, a species of milkweed native to eastern and southwestern North America

 

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