New York State Assembly Recognizes April as Native Plant Month

Rochester Garden Club Conservation Chair Pamela O’Connor-Chapman joins New York members of local Garden Club of America affiliates in Albany for resolution’s passage

ALBANY, NY: On Tuesday, the New York State Assembly passed a resolution recognizing April as Native Plant Month, making New York State the most recent state to officially participate in the Garden Club of America’s National Native Plant Month Initiative. The initiative is intended to amplify the importance of native plants and biodiversity, a key component of environmental health and sustainability. Pamela O’Connor-Chapman, Conservation Chair of the Rochester Garden Club and one of the State Co-Coordinators for the National Native Plant Month Initiative, was in attendance for the passage of the resolution and was recognized on the floor of the Assembly for her role in the effort.

“As an avid outdoors enthusiast, I care about conserving the natural beauty in our wild spaces for future generations to enjoy,” said Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes (R,C-Caledonia). “Native plants play an integral role in our environment as well as in enhancing our experience in parks, preserves, gardens and natural spaces as well as our own backyards. They deserve our protection and are part of what makes our state, and our community so unique. For example, the Teaching Forest at Letchworth State Park, which I am proud to represent, is home to many wonderful native species including trillium, massive tulip trees, and beloved sugar maples.”

O’Connor-Chapman was joined by three other New Yorkers involved with local Garden Club of America affiliates: Carol McPeek, Conservation Chair of the Philipstown Garden Club and another State co-coordinator for the National Native Plant Month Initiative (NNPMI); Joy Flynn of the Westhampton Garden Club, a Zone Team Leader for the NNPMI; and Kate Brittenham, Conservation Chair of the Fort Orange Garden Club.

“We must restore a healthy ecosystem to prevent a catastrophic collapse of biodiversity. Native plants are the foundation of a healthy ecosystem,” said O’Connor-Chapman. “I am so proud of New York State for making this resolution to make April Native Plant Month and thus allowing for the restoration of a healthy ecosystem.”

The resolution was sponsored by Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg (D-Ossining), representative for the 95th Assembly District. Levenberg is in her first term in the Assembly after serving for seven years as Ossining Town Supervisor, during which time she spearheaded numerous efforts to improve the Town’s environmental sustainability, including making it more pollinator-friendly. Levenberg currently serves as a member of the Environmental Conservation committee in the Assembly.

In its position paper on native plants, the Garden Club of America (GCA) notes that native plants are particularly important because “they have evolved over thousands of years alongside native bees, birds, and wildlife. Their complex relationship with fauna is extremely specialized and it cannot be substituted with exotic, non-native plants.” The GCA joins a growing movement of environmentalists who are concerned about native wildlife being put at risk of extinction because they cannot eat non-native plants, on top of the risks posed by habitat loss, the use of invasive species, climate change, and pesticide use. They argue that “It is vital that existing laws and regulations protecting native plant species be strengthened and administered using current peer-reviewed science.”

New York residents can learn more about supporting native plants in their areas by visiting the Sustainable Landscaping section of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation website. Local offices of the Cornell Cooperative Extension are also often able to help, and the organization’s web page also hosts information about native plants suitable for New York gardens.