WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced Wednesday that they have introduced legislation to promote the use of native plants.
The Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act would, according to Sen. Collins, encourage the National Park Service (NPS) to increase the use of native plant materials on lands it cares for.
Sen. Collins' office described the bill as a bipartisan effort to preserve biodiversity and reap the numerous benefits local flora provide to wildlife, human health, and the environment.
Sen. Collins also highlighted the impact she believes the bill would have on Acadia National Park, the only National Park in Maine.
“This bill will ensure that we preserve Maine's cultural history and natural heritage,” Sen. Collins said. “Acadia's native plant communities includes many species such as the blueberry barrens near the mountain summits, the towering white pines in older forests, and the cranberry bogs along Northeast Creek that contribute to Maine’s iconic landscape. Other native plants in Maine are the wildflowers that bloom in August and September, such as asters and goldenrods, helping to attract the more than 3.5 million visitors a year to the seventh most-visited national park in the United States.”
According to Sen. Collins, some of the 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.
Specifically, according to Sen. Collins, the Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act would establish a pilot program to prompt NPS to give preference to locally adaptive native plant materials and incorporate efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, non-native species. It would also authorize the Department of the Interior to conduct a study to determine the cost-effectiveness of using native plants.