Thursday, January 10, 2019

DCNR: New Wild Plant Regulations Now In Place In PA, What You Can Do To Help Native Plants, Pollinators

On January 9, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced new regulations that apply to the conservation of native wild plants in Pennsylvania are now final.  (Dec. 22 PA Bulletin, page 7757)
“There are many more species of plants in the world than there are animals, and the mission of DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry includes conserving native wild plants” Dunn said. “Pennsylvania is home to about 3,000 plant species -- about two-thirds of those are considered native to the Commonwealth, and 347 of them are currently considered rare, threatened, or endangered.”
Pennsylvania’s wild plant classifications includes rare, threatened and endangered, as well as others such as vulnerable, extirpated, tentatively undetermined and special population.
The updates to the list include: 9  plants were added, 9 plants moved from a lower classification to a higher one, 2 plants were downgraded, 31 plants were removed from the list and the scientific names were changed  for 79 species.
The department will continue working to maintain an updated list of classified plants in Pennsylvania by obtaining scientific information and classification recommendations from the public and experts across the state.
DCNR supports the newly formed Pennsylvania Plant Conservation Network, which will focus on the stewardship of rare plants on private lands and outreach on the importance of plants. That work will be spearheaded by Pennsylvania Plant Conservation Network Coordinator Kristi Allen.
DCNR has reviewed more than 20 years of field and taxonomic data to make these regulation updates.
The department receives plant data, information, and classification recommendations from the Pennsylvania Biological Survey’s (PABS) Vascular Plant Technical Committee, which is comprised of professional botanists.
DCNR also receives input from a public forum of the committee -- the Rare Plant Forum; which is attended by 50-80 amateur and professional botanists from across the state.
How Plants Become Threatened
Many factors can threaten populations of plants and cause them to become rare. Some of the most common threats to plants in Pennsylvania include:
-- Habitat loss and fragmentation, due to climate change, development, or conversion of habitat
-- Invasive plants displacing native plants
-- Creation of more edge habitat, increasing the threat of invasive plant species
-- Selective browsing by white-tailed deer or other wildlife may prevent plants from reproducing
-- Over-collection by people.
This list of plants is used as part of the review process for DEP environmental permits and will, when finalized, be incorporated into the PA Natural Diversity Inventory and DCNR’s online permit review and planning tool Conservation Explorer.
How You Can Help
There are some things everyone can do to help native wild plants:
-- Don’t pick native wild plants. Picking flowers means the plant will not go to seed. Take pictures, but leave the flowers in their habitats.
-- Do not remove plants from the wild to plant at home. They generally will not survive and removing them hurts their natural populations.
-- Don’t plant invasives and remove them at home. This will prevent their spread to other areas.
-- Plant natives in your yard, and ask for them at the garden center.
For more information about the rulemaking and wild plants, visit DCNR’s Wild Plants,  Rare, Threatened & Endangered Plants, Wild Plant Sanctuaries, Invasive Plants, Plant Community Classification, Landscaping With Native Plants webpages.
Native Plant Resources
There are lots of resources available to help property owners landscape with native plants, and now is the best time to start planning for Spring projects. Here are just of a few of the resources available--
-- Brandywine Conservancy: Forested Riparian Buffer Planting Guide
-- National Audubon: Native Plants Database
-- Pennsylvania Pollinator Protection Plan - Learn Why Pollinators Are At Risk In PA
You can also check with land trusts, watershed groups, PA Audubon and Trout Unlimited Chapters, county conservation districts or other groups near you to see how they can help.
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