Montclair, NJ is moving to have native plants only on city property

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MONTCLAIR, NJ – A town in Essex County is about to approve an ordinance requiring that only plants that grow naturally in our area be planted on town property.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reports, Crane Park in Montclair is just beginning to sprout with greenery as we head into spring.

“In the summer it’s just alive with butterflies, lots of different species of bees, birds, we have goldfinches,” said David Wasmuth of the Northeast Earth Coalition.

It was once a place of neglect, and is now a wildlife oasis. The majority of the plants are native to the region.

Now there is pressure from the city council to do this on all land in the township.

“We want to make sure we can restore native pollinator habitat to the area,” said Peter Yacobellis of Montclair Council.

It’s the Jose German-Gomez Native Species Act, named after a city conservationist and founder of the Northeast Earth Coalition. German-Gomez called it an honor.

The park is part of a larger project to connect pollinators from Maine to Virginia.

“We lost about 70% of the pollinator population,” German-Gomez said.

This breaks the food chain of birds and other species. Native plants not only attract bees and butterflies, but are more resilient.

“Because they evolved in our climate, they know our weather conditions, so they survive our harsh winters, they can cope with drought in the summer. So they require a lot less care, they don’t need ‘being constantly watered’, Wasmuth mentioned.

“We really want to encourage people to do it on their private property as well. Do it on your front lawns, do it in your backyards,” Yacobellis said. “But we also need suppliers to catch up with us. We cannot purchase 100% native trees for Montclair because they are not available.

Wasmuth points out some options that can be ordered online and delivered to your home on time, such as Jacob’s Ladder and Goldenrod.

“We don’t cut it during the winter because the birds still depend on it for food, for seeds, and also in the spring for nesting material,” Wasmuth said.

As for the state flower of New Jersey, the violet, it is a host plant for butterflies.

The Northeast Earth Coalition has a list of native plants on their website. Click here for more information.

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