HOW CAN WE PROTECT RARE PLANTS?
Just as the Center for Plant Conservation is a community of practice around the science of plants, we are building a community of advocates, working from every angle, to get Congress to move on bills that protect the environment and rare and endangered plants.
This community of advocates needs to go beyond all of us–we must include our visitors, friends, families, community partners, and more to gain wide-spread national and global support for plant conservation. When we work together, our voices are amplified, making it possible to save more plants from extinction.
What We Do
As part of our mission, from time to time, the Center for Plant Conservation takes positions on relevant matters that affect our collective ability to Save Plants. The Center for Plant Conservation is a non-partisan, 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. By law, the Center for Plant Conservation does not promote political parties or candidates but does issue statements on legislation and other actions that affect conservation objectives.
The Center for Plant Conservation Advocacy Committee drafts position papers on relevant topics pertaining to plant conservation. The purpose of the position papers is to have an organizational approved position on issues related to our mission, to give the Center for Plant Conservation the guidance under which to take actions, and show our stance on issues to the public and network.CPC Position Papers
The Center for Plant Conservation Advocacy Committee tracks federal legislation that have direct impact on the safeguarding of rare and endangered plants, plant conservation research, and restoration.Current Legislation
If your organization would like to have us speak at your meeting or event, we’d love to share with you the amazing world of rare plant conservation – from collecting seeds of some of the rarest plants in the world, to the cutting-edge research needed to save these plants from extinction, please email us.Contact Us
What You Can Do
Every action matters when it comes to saving plants. Whether it is becoming well versed on native and rare plants in your region, sending emails to your policy makers in support of plant conservation or sharing the work of the Center for Plant Conservation with others, these individual actions add up to big, positive change for plants.
Sign up to the Center for Plant Conservation email list and receive timely action alerts and our monthly newsletter. You will keep up to date on the latest in plant conservation and be the first to know when relevant plant conservation legislation is being heard in Congress.SIGN UP FOR EMAIL LIST
From time to time, we will reach out to our community and ask you to lend your voice to saving plants. If you need to find out how to contact your Representative or Senator in the United States Congress, click below.FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
The Center for Plant Conservation maintains a collection of more than 2,000 of America’s most imperiled native plants through its network of world class botanical gardens. To dig deeper into the status of these plants, please visit our National Collection.NATIONAL COLLECTION
CPC Position Paper on Threatened and Endangered Native Plants
Since 1984, the mission of the Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) has been to save the threatened and endangered native plants of North America by supporting evidence-based measures to prevent extinction. The landmark 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) has served to protect imperiled species, and, as advocates for native plants and biological diversity, we support the ESA (1) and champion the enforcement of federal, state and local environmental laws to protect native species and the ecosystems that provide the essential context for their survival. Many plants are at risk owing to habitat destruction, climate change, invasive non-native plants and loss of pollinators, among other challenges. Without human intervention, an estimated one million of Earth’s plant and animal species may face extinction in the next decades. To save rare and imperiled plants, CPC collaborates with a network of Conservation Partners–botanical gardens, arboreta, seed banks, herbaria and research organizations–and is a member of the Endangered Species Coalition. Looking beyond the borders of the U.S.A., the CPC endorses international efforts aimed at securing the fate of Earth’s imperiled species.
Each plant species represents a unique genetic and phenotypic solution to the problem of how to live on planet Earth. Each species occupies a unique nexus in the web of interactions among living organisms, and between them and their environments. As a result, the loss of a single species represents loss of irretrievable and precious information, while also endangering other species that are part of the interactive web of life. The CPC believes that human beings have the urgent responsibility to prevent this loss by taking action accordingly.
CPC therefore supports:
• Conserving imperiled plants in nature (in situ) and in gardens, seed banks and other repositories for living tissue (ex situ).
• Preserving existing critical habitat of imperiled species and unoccupied “refuge” areas where species can recover and persist.
• Safeguarding native species and ecosystems as a fundamental responsibility of humanity, but also because of the importance of biodiverse, wild populations as sources for medicine, food and other human needs, importantly including their ethnobotanical uses and significance to Native American and indigenous communities.
• Advancing the conservation of imperiled flora through science-based standards and protocols, research, cutting edge technology, information synthesis, data sharing and collaboration.
• Providing strict legal safeguards and consistent standards for threatened species awaiting listing, parallel to those for listed endangered plants.
• Increasing the number of trained botanists, conservation biologists and ecologists to conduct the exacting scientific research, monitoring and interventions necessary for native plant conservation and to provide science-based information to inform decision-making, responsible environmental policy-making by government entities at all levels, and conservation action.
• Augmenting viable, genetically diverse germplasm in seed banks and gene banks as a critical step in the restoration of self-sustaining wild populations and the survival and recovery of plants at risk.
• Supporting herbaria and their repositories of vouchers that provide expertly identified evidence to establish the historical ranges of species.
• Backing increased funding for restoration of native ecosystems and rare plants on public lands and for active management and sound strategies to combat invasive weeds.
• Working actively to protect pollinators with which plant species have co-evolved and upon which they depend for their successful reproduction.
• Empowering people with science-based knowledge to become advocates and activists for native plants threatened with extinction.
(1) According to the ESA, “‘Endangered’ means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. ‘Threatened’ means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.” (https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/ESA_basics.pdf)
CPC Position Paper on Climate Change
Background: As part of the advocacy efforts aligned with the mission to protect native and endangered plant species of the United States and its territories whose natural ranges extend into Canada and Mexico, The Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) is posting its Position Paper on Climate Change.
Climate Change and Threatened and Endangered Plants
The mission of CPC is to prevent native plant extinctions. The need is urgent to ensure the survival of imperiled plants facing dire consequences of climate change disruptions, exacerbated by habitat destruction, reproductive isolation, declines in pollinators, and ecological competition from invasive plants and animals. Human activities, including burning fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, and the destruction of carbon sinks that absorb carbon dioxide are major culprits of climate change. The last seven years have been the warmest on record (1) and have been accompanied by rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and frequent massive wildfires. Climate change alters the timing of plant flowering, thereby affecting pollination and seed set, with consequent impact on the availability of fruits and seeds for birds and other creatures. The range of some species has shifted or contracted, and there are ongoing declines in plant populations. Climate change adversely impacts humans and wildlife, by which we mean native, undomesticated plants and animals.
CPC supports solutions to combat climate change:
- Replacing dependence on fossil fuels with renewable, alternative energies
- Fostering the resilience of natural systems by preserving and restoring existing carbon sinks, including intact forests, peatlands, native grasslands and other habitats that sequester carbon and provide clean air
- Maintaining wilderness and forested areas in national, state, and local parks, public lands, wildlife refuges, natural reserves and forests that act as carbon reservoirs
- Protecting coastal systems that capture “Blue Carbon” or carbon dioxide from the coastal ecosystems, and that provide aquatic habitat for invertebrates and other life
- Promoting living shorelines of natural materials and plants that store carbon
- Encouraging regenerative, no-till farming to sequester carbon and enrich the soil
- Using green buffers with native flora in transportation corridors and in public gardens
CPC supports research, education and advocacy:
- Designating strong legal protection for plants in the Endangered Species Act and State Wildlife Action Plans.
- Encouraging science -based research and conservation tools to map shifting ranges of imperiled species, monitor the effects of climate change, and develop strategies to prevent plant extinction
- Supporting seed banks and gene banks with viable, genetically diverse germplasm
- Expanding leadership initiatives throughout the USA for federal, state, and local funding for timely, science -based collection, conservation and seed banking of imperiled plants to protect biodiversity
- Adopting models to prioritize sensitive areas and ecosystems to make crucial, time-sensitive, science-based decisions
- Disseminating information about climate change and how it affects rare plants
- Promoting the importance of protecting rare plants and their pollinators by conveying the interrelationships of species and the realities of extinction
- Endorsing legislation that provides protections for native, endangered, and threatened plants
- Educating how individuals can be part of the solution
*Approved by the Board of Trustees 10/22/2021.
Federal Legislation – Current
Update, April 2023: After narrowly missing passage in the last Congress, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) has been reintroduced by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) on March 30, 2023. Now with two bipartisan co-sponsors, the bill was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. It had bipartisan support in the 117th Congress but failed to be passed due to funding issues. The bill would amend the Pittman-Roberson Wildlife Restoration Act to provide financial and technical assistance to states, territories, and Tribes, for recovery efforts for species of greatest conservation need and key habitats of these species.
CPC encourages you to ACT NOW by contacting your senators and representatives and urging them to support this bill.
History of H.R. 2773/S. 2372 in the 117th Congress:
H.R. 2773 U.S. House of Representatives passed the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) in a 231-190 bipartisan vote on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. The bill amends the Pittman-Robertson Act to provide states, territories, and tribes with more than $1.3 billion annually to catalyze proactive, on-the-ground, collaborative efforts to restore essential habitat and implement key conservation strategies as described in each state’s Wildlife Action Plan.
This bill provides funding for (1) the conservation or restoration of wildlife and plant species of greatest conservation need; (2) the wildlife conservation strategies of states, territories, or the District of Columbia; and (3) wildlife conservation education and recreation projects.
It includes language to safeguard native plants and to combat invasive species. Together with partners including the Native Plant Conservation Campaign, Plant Conservation Alliance Non-Federal Cooperators Committee, Garden Club of America and Botanic Gardens Conservation International United States, this language was included and an amendment was added stating that funds can be used for the conservation and restoration of native pollinator species.
The Department of the Interior must use a portion of the funding for a grant program. The grants must be used for innovative recovery efforts for species of greatest conservation need, species listed as endangered or threatened species, or the habitats of such species.
S. 2372 In April 2021, the Senate’s version of the bill favorably advanced out of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works committee. Much behind the scenes work has been going on by Chairman Carper ( D-DE), Ranking Member Capito (R-WVA), Senator Blunt (R-MO), and Senator Heinrich (D-NM) to reach a compromise that protects the integrity of the bill without increasing the funding request to a non-negotiable level. The legislation moved to the Senate for consideration in Summer 2022, but failed to pass in December 2022.
If passed into law, this legislation will, for the first time in U.S. history, provide permanent, dedicated funding to state and tribal agencies to proactively conserve at-risk species, including native plants.
Please let your Senators know that the CPC supports “RAWA” and hope they will vote “yes” when it is presented next session. You may also call the Capitol switchboard in D.C. on (202) 224- 3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator’s office, where you’ll be able to speak to a member of their staff.
Read the full text of the bill here.
Introduced in the 118th Congress in the House by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (with 54 co-sponsors), referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, in addition to the Committee on Agriculture, and at present in the Subcommittee on Forestry. The bill would involve a collaborative process to improve the health and resiliency of giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), which grow naturally only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in California. Drought, climate change and wildfires have hit groves of the ancient trees, including those in Yosemite National Park in the 2022 Washburn Fire. As first introduced in the 117th Congress, the bill aimed to facilitate emergency procedures and projects to address restoration and rehabilitation of fire-damaged areas, provide for interagency coordination and creation of a Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition with input by local and state government, representatives from the National Parks Service, Forest Service, BLM and Tribal leaders.
CPC encourages you to ACT NOW by contacting your senators and representatives and urging them to support this bill.
Introduced in the Senate in the 118th Congress by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)-This bill designates certain lands of the National Forest System, lands under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming “as wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, wildland recovery areas and biological connecting corridors, and for other purposes.” The bill also designates segments of specified rivers and creeks in these states as parts of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and specified areas as wildland recovery areas. Under the bill, the USDA is to develop wildland recovery plans for each recovery area. In lands of over 1,000 acres within the National Forest system in the Wild Rockies bioregion, the bill, after a study by independent scientists, would prohibit road construction and development that impairs the natural and roadless qualities of the land. First introduced as S1276 and H.R. 1755 in the 117thCongress.
CPC encourages you to ACT NOW by contacting your senators and representatives and urging them to support this bill.
Introduced in the House by Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO). Under the bill, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would enter into cooperative agreements with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create a fund to conserve and restore resilience lands. These lands are defined as fish, wildlife and plant habitats and other important natural areas in the Unites States, on public lands, private lands (with landowner consent), or Tribal lands. These include grasslands, shrublands, prairies, chaparral, forests, deserts and riparian or wetland areas within or adjacent to these ecosystems. Grants would be awarded on a competitive basis to federal agencies, local governments, Indian tribes or nonprofits.
ACT NOW by contacting your senators and representatives to encourage them to support this bill.
Introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and co-sponsored by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), this bill seeks to create dedicated funds to conserve butterflies in North America, plants in the Pacific Islands, freshwater mussels int he United Sates, and desert fish in the Southwest United States, and for other purposes. In selecting projects for approval in the Pacific Islands, the Secretary shall give priority to projects that conserve species of plants that are listed as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et. seq.)
Federal Legislation – Past
Update, April 2023: The bill was introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), and co-sponsored by Senator Michael F. Bennett (D-CO) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). It was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. It would establish a voluntary, incentive-based Grassland Conservation Grant Program to help landowners, farmers, ranchers and Tribes restore, enhance, and conserve their native grasslands, thereby improving biodiversity and habitat connectivity. Native grasslands store carbon in their roots, underground in the soil, and so are important in carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change. The bill would create National and Regional Grassland Conservation Councils composed of federal, state, Tribal and conservation organizations as well as different farming, ranching and grazing groups. These Councils would approve funding for grassland conservation projects and offer recommendations for best practices. The bill also would establish research initiatives on native seed crops and regenerative grazing practices. The bill was endorsed in December, 2022 by The Wildlife Society.
Watching for news in the 118th Congress.
Introduced in the 117th Congress:
A new bipartisan bill has been introduced to Congress – the North American Grasslands Conservation Act of 2022 – with the purpose to conserve and restore grasslands in North America.
Many grassland species in North America are in decline and their ecosystems threatened by fragmentation, invasive species, wildfire, degradation, and land conversion. If passed, the North American Grasslands Conservation Act of 2022 will address important conservation, management, and research issues related to grasslands.
Senate Resolution 570 designating April 2023 as National Native Plant Month originally was sponsored by Senators Portman (R-OH) and Hirono (D-HI) and agreed by Unanimous Consent. Upon Senator Portman’s retirement, Senator Braum (R-IN) agreed to sponsor a renewal of the Resolution by designating April 2023 as National Native Plant Month. The Center for Plant Conservation signed on as supporter of S. Res. 570.
This bill was introduced into Congress on March 3, 2021. In an effort to preserve biodiversity and and reap the numerous benefits local flora provide to wildlife, human health, and the environment, the bill would create a five-year pilot program in select National Parks to combat invasive species and test the success and the use of native plant material. This bill would also direct the Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management to review existing data and study the cost-effectiveness of using native plants within their respective units.
In July 2022, The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced the Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act.
This was a bipartisan bill was introduced by Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8). An earlier version version was led by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in February 2020.
The Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act was signed into law by President Biden on Dec. 29, 2022 as part of the 2023 government funding package (Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023).
A bill, introduced into the Senate on March 9, 2020 to establish, fund, and provide for the use of amounts in a National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to address the maintenance backlog of the National Park Service, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Indian Education, and to provide permanent, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and for other purposes. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and has 58 bipartisan co-sponsors.
The “Great American Outdoors Act” combines two major conservation bills: S. 500, aimed at reducing the nearly $20 billion deferred maintenance backlog on public lands, and S. 1081, which would make funding permanent for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at its $900 million annual authorized level.
Under the bill, the National Park Service would receive the bulk of the aid — 70% of the funds — or roughly $1.3 billion per year beginning in fiscal 2021.
The Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service each would get 10%, or $190 million annually, while the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education would each collect 5%, or about $95 million annually.
S.500 and S.1081 were important for plant conservation because they contained language that required native plants and natural infrastructure to be used in the projects funded by the bills. The new Great American Outdoors Act combines those two bills to further the protection of our natural lands and water.
S.1081 Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act
This bill makes permanent, beginning in FY2020, funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to safeguard our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. Using zero taxpayer dollars, the fund invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to help strengthen communities, preserve our history and protect our national endowment of lands and waters. The LWCF Act authorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund at an annual level of $900 million, but Congress usually appropriates only a portion of this amount. While $900 million in revenue is deposited into a designated account in the Treasury each year, Congress has appropriated full funding to support conservation and recreation projects only once in the Fund’s 50-year history – diverting the remainder for other purposes.
S.500 – Restore Our Parks Act and H.R.1225 – Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act
These bills (1) establish the National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund, and (2) requires 50% of all energy development revenues for FY2019-FY2023 to be deposited into such fund.
H.R. 3195 is the companion bill to S. 1081 introduced in the House of Representatives, again with bipartisan support.
On Tuesday, August 4, 2020 the President signed into law the Great American Outdoors Act.
Thanks to all of you who called and wrote your Representatives to vote for this important conservation bill. This victory wouldn’t have happened without you!
This bill was introduced to Congress on March 17, 2021 to amend title 23, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Transportation to establish a program to provide grants to carry out activities to benefit pollinators on roadsides and highway rights-of-way, including the planting and seeding of native, locally-appropriate grasses and wildflowers, including milkweed, and for other purposes.
This bill was in Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as of March 2021. Provisions of this bill were incorporated into other bills which were enacted, so there will not likely be further activity on this bill. This bill was incorporated into:
H.R. 3684: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – enacted, signed by the President on November 15, 2021.
The US House of Representatives introduced a bill, H.R.1572, commonly referred to as the “botany bill”, that among other things, “directs the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the National Park Service, and other appropriate entities to support a program of intramural and extramural botanical science research to support the land management responsibilities of the Department of the Interior.”
The Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) supported this bill for the following reasons:
- It would increase the number of trained botanists, scientists, conservation biologists and ecologists to conduct the science-based research necessary for the conservation of vulnerable plants and their ecosystems.
- It advocates for science-based research that provides data to alert relevant agencies and the public with vital information to inform decision-making, responsible environmental government policy and conservation action.
- It supports engagement between the Department of the Interior with other agencies and groups, including organizations like CPC, to maximize conservation efforts and legislative advocacy efforts.