On December 1st, your Mayor and Council will discuss my proposal for the creation of a Mount Rainier Native Plant Network. This is a new idea and probably easiest to explain by first talking a bit about biodiversity.
Biodiversity is crucial to our planet and our existence. It is the plants, bugs, bees, birds, bears, humans, and everything in between that makes our planet so wonderfully alive and habitable to us.
Unfortunately, human development is taking a serious toll on the planet’s biodiversity. Whether it’s climate change or habitat destruction, our planet’s biodiversity is declining at alarming rates.
The effects of this decline will determine the kind of planet future generations get to enjoy. The question before us is whether we can disrupt its worst effects – e.g., a dystopian future with fewer wild animals or without the pollinators who help grow much of our food – or whether we can reverse the trend and save our wonderfully diverse mix of animals and plants for future generations to enjoy.
To address this crisis, the Sierra Club has joined other environmental groups in pushing to preserve 30% of the planet as nature preserves. Unfortunately, creating islands of reserves in our state and national parks may not be enough. As many in Mount Rainier know, turning our suburban and urban landscapes into more of the native landscapes they once were through the use of native plants is one key to connecting the biodiversity in those reserves.
So, here’s the idea. I’ve proposed the creation of a Mount Rainier Native Plant Network to educate and encourage residents, apartment owners, and our local governments to commit to planting native plants on their properties.
For example, once a neighbor commits 10% of their non-structured landscape to native plants or plants 25 different native plant species in their yard, they would become a member of the network and receive a sign out front to show off their membership if they so choose. We would create an online map of where homes have committed to the cause, providing us with a virtual representation of the native plant ecosystem in our city to both highlight those in the network and those areas we need to target. It’s voluntary and, with the only cost being the signs, very cheap.
But that is just a start. The Sierra Club’s Maryland Chapter loves this idea and is helping push it to our neighboring jurisdictions in an effort to create a Native Plant Corridor across the state of Maryland. The goal is simple – connect our yards and public spaces with the biodiversity that native plantings enable to promote biodiversity health through our great state.
In a time when progress on these important issues is sometimes stunted at the federal level, it might just be our yards and local public spaces that will serve as the needed biodiversity corridors to connect our nature preserves to stave off biodiversity loss.
And with so much outside of our sphere of influence in the fight to save our planet, it is heartening to know that there is something we can start right here, right now, to help save our planet. If you are interested in helping out in this cause, please shoot me an email.