Getting to the Root of the Environment

May 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm Leave a comment

Big mammals get a lot of press.  The World Wildlife Federation has its panda mascot. “Save the Whales” is a green cliché.  But what would be the greenest battle cry?  Well, let’s put it this way: I’m a plant nerd, and even I rarely hear people clamoring, “Save the Plants!”.   

 Plant Conservation Day began in 2004, as one day in the year for zoos to acknowledge the importance of plants in habitats and in our daily lives.  The Butterfly Pavilion celebrates Plant Conservation Day in 2010 on Saturday, May 29th with Bloomapalooza, a day-long festival devoted to healthy backyard habitats.  But, being the horticulturist around here, I have the right to assert the need for plant conservation not just one, but 365 days of the year!  

 After all, we rely every day on plants for oxygen, shade, erosion control, food and medicines.  Think of an ecosystem.  Chances are, if you thought of tropical rainforests, you saw deep green jungles of trees and vines; a desert might bring cactuses and creosote to your imagination, and savannahs mean grasses as far as the eye can see.  Plants are the foundation of food chains, the producers that bring their sun-fueled energy to every habitat. 

 Luckily for us, there are many dedicated scientists, land managers and volunteers who recognize this fact and work to keep native plant populations diverse and robust.  And, there are so many ways for all of us to get involved.  If you are grateful for the things plants give us, why not give back through some of these opportunities? 

 1. Butterfly Pavilion

Nature Trail outside the Butterfly Pavilion

The Big Dry Creek open space is adjacent to the Butterfly Pavilion’s habitat garden and supports a variety of native plants and wildlife, from tough, dryland grasses and wildflowers to bald eagles and checkered white butterflies.  The Butterfly Pavilion relies heavily on the efforts of community volunteers to remove invasive weeds, maintain trails, plant wildflowers and grasses and study the native butterfly population.  For those folks who want a hands-on, shortgrass prairie restoration project, volunteering at the Butterfly Pavilion can be a rewarding experience.  Please contact Kris Pohl, Volunteer Coordinator, at kpohl@butterflies.org.

2. Wildlands Restoration Volunteers

WRV is a non-profit organization that brings volunteers together to restore local habitats and learn about the natural environment.  They organize about forty projects a year along the northern Front Range.  For example, this month, WRV will be restoring riparian habitat in the Campbell Valley, outside Fort Collins.  You can’t get more hand-on than this!  To find out more, go to http://www.wlrv.org/

3. Colorado Native Plant Society

To appreciate plants, it helps to know what they are, right?  The CONPS is a dedicated, committed group of plant enthusiasts, environmentalists, botanists and gardeners, but they are also a treasure trove of plant knowledge and advocates for Colorado’s natural environment.  By becoming a member of CONPS, you can work with state and local agencies and other environmental groups to educate the public about the importance of preserving Colorado’s beautiful flora.  To learn more, please visit www.conps.org.

4. Bloomapalooza, May 29th 2010 

And, finally, did you know that plant conservation can happen in your own backyard?  A careful choice of garden plants and strict attention to the more thuggish of weeds can yield great dividends to the community.  Our plant conservation festival, Bloomapalooza, will offer numerous opportunities to learn more about the beauty of backyard habitats, from gardening demonstrations to ladybug releases.  We’ll even feature a “Get Dirty Project”, in which visitors can help with the planting of a butterfly habitat garden at the Butterfly Pavilion!  After a full day of Bloomapalooza, Butterfly Pavilion visitors will be plant conservation converts!

Posted by Amy Yarger

Horticulture Director

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Entry filed under: Current Events, General. Tags: , , , , , , .

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