Audubon Delta Celebrates a Landmark Win for Native Plants
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Following near-unanimous passage by the state legislature, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed Senate Bill 2137 into law, which permanently designates April as native plant month.
With this bipartisan legislation, Mississippi has followed Ohio in becoming the second state in the country, and the first state in the South, to dedicate one month each year to recognize native plants and their essential role for wildlife, communities, and the economy.
This state initiative was pursued by the Jackson Garden Club, an affiliate of the Garden Club of America. Audubon Delta was a crucial supporter in the effort, along with other Garden Clubs, the Native Plant Society, landscapers and gardeners, and master gardeners and naturalist groups.
“This official annual designation each April reflects widespread support for our state’s natural heritage and wildlife, celebrates Mississippi’s unique culture, and promotes economic development for local businesses such as garden centers and nurseries,” said Jill Mastrototaro, Mississippi Policy Director for Audubon Delta.
Audubon Delta has had a long history of native plant education and programming across the state, including through our Pascagoula River Audubon Center (PRAC) located in Moss Point.
“Our property showcases the beauty and benefits of using native plants to all who visit,” said Susan Stachowski, Manager of the Pascagoula River Audubon Center. “For the past four years, we have hosted native plants sales in the spring and fall, and this year will be no different. These events have become very popular, drawing hundreds of customers from coastal Mississippi and beyond.”
In recent years, PRAC has been at the forefront of promoting the many benefits of native plants. For example, in response to the U.S. Senate declaring April as National Plant Month in 2021, PRAC successfully secured proclamations from the Mississippi House and Senate that designated April 2021 as “Native Plant Month.”PRAC is working hard to grow the momentum and excitement of this year’s permanent designation with the Jackson County Board of Supervisors, municipalities, and local educators to unify local communities around a month-long celebration. This has resulted in a growing cascade of proclamations across Jackson County, most recently by Mayor Billy E. Knight, Sr., for the City of Moss Point.
PRAC is developing a wide array of activities for use in schools and by city leaders and businesses, which include daily native plant facts and activities that help share knowledge of native plants and how to incorporate them into the local landscape.
Overall, this initiative aims to drive more attention to the importance of native plants and their purpose of nourishing birds, beautifying our communities and backyards, and helping address the threat of climate change while promoting economic development. Audubon’s Plants for Birds program is designed to enable anyone to impact native plants for birds right where they live positively.
You can take the first step to celebrating native plants by visiting Audubon’s Native Plant Database and entering your 5-digit zip code to learn about the best plants for birds in your area and where to buy them.
For more information, please contact Jill Mastrototaro at [email protected] or Susan Stachowski at [email protected].