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Going native is only natural

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
January 29, 2008


Southern California is an over populated desert with a tenuous hold on unreliable resources, as far as humans are concerned it always will be. The plants and animals evolving here over the course of time have adapted to dry conditions with the basic survival technique of water conservation. It's time for Southern Californians to evolve as well.

For far to long landscaping our homes and communities has been left to the whims of fashion and wishful thinking, with ecological sustainability being left for dead under the wheels of commerce driven progress. Meanwhile the plants best suited for survival are bulldozed to the point of extinction only to be replaced thirsty tropicals, invasive exotics, and high maintenance hybrids.

I admit I'm beginning to see a glimmer of hope through all the apathy and ignorance and commercial complicity. I also see a complete unwillingness to abandon short-sight anthropocentric if it means having to live in a Southern California surrounded by the species indigenous to southern California.

Currently I'm honored to be working with a group of Encinitas residents as part of the Invasive and toxic plant committee to craft policy regarding the recognition, regulation and removal of plant species likely to cause harm to the economy, environment, and human health. Plants deemed invasive are known to displace native plants and adversely affect wildlife, water quality, recreation, and biological diversity.

Devising a list that focuses only on plants currently posing a threat in Encinitas, the committee is leveling a sober and sincere look at weighing the need for regulation with the rights of property owners. The goal of the committee is not to make anyone wrong but to help everyone do right by the environment.

This process includes identifying stakeholders in efforts to rid the City of that invasive non natives that are currently causing environmental and economic harm throughout the State of California, which in some cases are costing business interests and taxpayers millions of dollars annually.

The draft list includes Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana), the common Morning-glory (Ipomoea purpurea), Pride of madera (Echium candicans), Mexican Fan palm (Wasingtonia robusta), Castor bean (Rincinus communis), Peruvian and Brazilian pepper trees (Schinus molle / Schinus terebinthiflris)and two types of Eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus camaldulensis/ Eucalyptus globulus)

By removing invasive species from our communities and restoring native plants and animals s to their natural habitats Southern Californians will leave a legacy of sustainability for future generations to build on.

The committee is also addressing educational outreach and planting alternatives in keeping with efforts of the California Invasive Plant Council and the California Native Plant Society.

With all this in mind, now that the first rains of the year have come and gone it is the perfect time to get water wise and landscape with indigenous species while the ground is wet with weather and conditions are ideal for long term success.

By planting native species, not only will homeowners, and commercial landscapers conserve water while saving money they will also help restore balance to a region that is teetering on the edge of ecological collapse by providing much needed habitat and forage for native animal species being crowded out by over development.

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