Executive orders, the E.P.A., the U.S.F.W.S., and other concerns
are making demands on public agencies like DOTs and Public Works
to modify their design and maintenance programs in order to comply
with environmental mandates. Non-point source water pollution,
the control of exotics, and herbicide use are three key issues
that public agencies are being asked to address, and the use of
natives can be tools to resolve these issues.
<> Non-point source water pollution and sediment control. Low-growing natives could be planted in areas where water flows, to catch sediment before it goes into streams.
<> Local natives can be used in projects instead of persistent exotics which can escape and cause problems in the future. The intentional planting of persistent exotics has been a major problem nation-wide, with roadside and rangeland planting contributing the major portion of the problem in the West. Exotics, whether they are accidentally introduced noxious weeds, or intentionally planted exotics like Smooth brome or Crested wheatgrass, can modify and damage native ecosystems for hundreds or thousands of years once planted. Local natives can be utilized, to do the revegetation jobs that persistent exotics were once used for.
<> The lowering of herbicide use along roadsides will need some creative solutions that local natives may be able to provide.
In California, for example, the use of natives for environmental solutions have barely been tapped. Out of 5,000 natives that occur in California, only 120 species, or only 2%, are available in seed form in pound quantities. The local natives may be useful in resolving landscaping, maintenance and legal issues, and all it takes is a desire to learn how to utilize them.
Our class "The Basics of Using
Local Natives for Roadsides" can help start the
process of using natives easily.