Hirono Legislation Promotes Native Plant Use, Protection

August 1, 2019, 12:48 PM HST (Updated August 2, 2019, 8:29 AM)
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On Wednesday, July 31, 2019, US Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) co-introduced a bill intended to promote native plant use, research and protection.

The Botanical Sciences and Native Plant Materials Research, Restoration and Promotion Act would encourage federal land management agencies to hire botanists, establish a collaborative grant program to support efforts to keep rare plant species from becoming endangered and help endangered plant species recover, while proactively encouraging the use of native plants in projects on federal land when feasible.

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“Hawai‘i is home to over one thousand native plant species, and nearly 90 percent of those are found nowhere else in the world,” Sen. Hirono said. “Without these plants, our communities and our ecosystems face serious economic and ecological consequences. This bill would provide federal, state and local land management entities the tools and resources they need to further protect native plant species and ensure the wellbeing of these plants for generations to come.”

The Botanical Sciences and Native Plant Materials Research, Restoration and Promotion Act would:

  • Establish a competitive grant program within the Department of the Interior (DOI) to states, territories, tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations, local governments and nonprofit organizations for projects that conserve and promote populations of rare plants that are close to becoming endangered and help endangered plant populations recover.
  • Promote the hiring of botanists within the DOI and provide monetary incentives to attract and retain botanists through a student loan repayment program.
  • Instruct the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Defense to provide preference to native plant materials in land management projects and justify the use of non-native plant materials.
  • Require that native plant materials receive preference and are subsequently used in surface transportation projects and federal building design.
  • Promote interagency cooperation for various activities relating to native plants.
  • Direct the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to incorporate into existing activities native plant conservation.
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