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Naturalist to talk about how to breathe new life into landscaping with native plants

The Western New York Land Conservancy will bring award-winning author Doug Tallamy to Western New York this week to talk about the critical importance of native plants for the ecology and vibrancy of the region.

“A Case for Native Plants” will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at Niagara Power Vista, 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston. The event is free but space is limited, so those who wish to attend should register by Thursday at Guests are encouraged to arrive at 6 for a book signing by Tallamy and to explore the Power Vista.

Tallamy’s research and his book, “Bringing Nature Home,” have sparked a national conversation about the importance of using native plants in our gardens and landscapes to reverse the loss of wildlife and to make communities healthier.

The plight of the Monarch butterfly is making headlines across the nation. To a large degree, their decline is tied to the loss of native plants. Monarch caterpillars are dependent upon a single source of nutrition: native milkweeds. Their populations have suffered dramatic losses as milkweed fields disappear. We can fix this in our own yards by planting many types of native milkweeds, which have gorgeous red, pink, orange, and white flowers.

“We have eliminated so much nature so fast, that most people don’t realize how little is left,” Tallamy said in a news release in advance of his appearance. “We have devastated our natural areas. If we are going to have functioning ecosystems and biodiversity, we’re going to have to share the land we’ve taken.”

Historically, landscaping adds beauty to our yards without much thought to the role that plants play in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Dave Spiering, conservation project manager for the regional Land Conservancy chapter, said Tallamy does a great job explaining why native plants are so important. “They meet the needs of native insects, which, in turn, serve a complicated food web. Without insects, all terrestrial ecosystems collapse. Native insects require the plants with which they co-evolved.”

Native plants feed our wildlife, clean our water, and support the pollinators that put food on our tables, conservancy officials said. Like milkweed, many native plants are beautiful, too.

Executive Director Nancy Smith said that the conservancy protects about 6,500 acres in the region – “but we can’t protect everything. If every gardener and landowner, and every business, school, and town park includes even a small number of native plants it will make an enormous difference to our pollinators and wildlife.”

The event is a part of the Land Conservancy’s multi-year Restore the Gorge project, which will maintain and enhance the ecological diversity of the Niagara Gorge. This project is supported by $1 million from Buffalo Billion Phase II, nearly $1 million from Niagara River Greenway Commission’s Greenway Ecological Standing Committee, and a $100,000 grant from Oath Community Benefit Fund for Niagara County by the Empire State Development.


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