Cantwell, Collins Introduce Bill to Restore Native Plants in National Parks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation to promote the use of native plants, preserve biodiversity and reap the numerous benefits local flora provide to wildlife, human health, and the environment. The Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act would create a new pilot program at the National Park Service (NPS) to support the use of native plants, and would direct the Park Service to review existing data and study the cost-effectiveness of using native plants.  

“Native plants play a vital role in protecting our shared public lands. Bringing more native plants back will help us combat invasive species, provide food and shelter for local wildlife, and adapt to the looming threat of climate change,” said Senator Cantwell.

“Maine’s greatest treasure is it natural beauty and cultural history, attracting millions of visitors each year,” said Senator Collins.  “The Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act would encourage the National Park Service to protect native plants such as blueberry barrens, white pines, and wildflowers, as well as prevent the future spread of invasive species across the State of Maine.”

Some of the myriad 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.

In order to maintain these benefits, native plants need help to confront threats such as non-native pests, non-native plants, diseases, and a changing climate.  Of the 20,000 known native plant species in North America, it has been estimated that approximately 30 percent are at risk of extinction as a result of factors such as habitat loss, invasive species, temperature shifts, and pesticide use.

Congressman Matt Cartwright (D, PA-08), Congressman Bennie Thompson (D, MS-02), Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D, CA-14), and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Senator Cantwell has been a leading congressional champion in efforts to protect public lands. Last Congress, Senator Cantwell and Senator Collins introduced similar legislation to encourage the use of  native plants on NPS lands.  

The full text of the bill is available HERE.