Matthew Cartwright

02/28/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/28/2020 15:42

Reps. Cartwright, Stefanik Introduce Bill to Protect Native Plants in National Parks

Washington, DC - Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) introduced the Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act with Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21) to protect and preserve native plant species in national parks throughout the United States.

'Fighting invasive species is critical to preserving our national parks so we can enjoy them for generations to come,' said Rep. Cartwright, who serves as vice-chair of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC). 'When it comes to our Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, millions of residents and tourists come every year to enjoy the woodland wildflowers that bloom bright in the spring, white oaks and red maples that shed their rustic-colored leaves in the fall, and the eastern hemlocks that define this local treasure all year round. We have to do our part to maintain the unique natural beauty of these areas all across the nation.'

Increasing the use of native plant species on federal lands is beneficial for wildlife, human health and the environment. Unfortunately, of the 20,000 known native plant species in North America, around 30 percent are at risk of extinction. Native plants play an important role in natural water filtration, erosion control and capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act would establish a pilot program in National Park Service (NPS) regions to prioritize the use of native plant species and prevent the spread of invasive non-native species, which can outcompete native plants and transform entire ecosystems, causing irreparable harm to local wildlife.

For instance, the eastern hemlocks in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which are foundational to the area, are being threatened by an invasive insect, according to the National Park Service. This pilot program is important to both protecting the habitats of the native wildlife and the scenic landscapes that visitors come to enjoy.

'As co-chair of the House Invasive Species Caucus, I am proud to be introducing this bipartisan legislation to promote native plant species' said Congresswoman Stefanik. 'The North Country is home to a variety of native plant species that support biodiversity and support our ecosystems. Promoting the use of native species is beneficial for wildlife, humans, and the environment. Our National Parks will greatly benefit from the introduction of this program. I am proud to be introducing this legislation, and I look forward to working with my colleagues towards its swift passage in the House.'

This legislation is endorsed by the Garden Club of America, Friends of Acadia and Scenic America.

'This visionary legislation will demonstrate that native plants on our public lands provide multiple benefits, including combatting invasive species, and providing food and shelter for local wildlife. Native plants are critical to controlling erosion, moderating floods, filtering water and sequestering carbon,' said Debbie Edwards, President of the Garden Club of America. 'We applaud Representatives Cartwright and Stefanik for their leadership in restoring and protecting the ecosystems that are crucial for life on earth. '

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) have previously introduced companion legislation in the Senate.