Valuable Resource for those interested in Native Species

Saturday, July 30, 2011 - 5:04pm

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, in partnership with and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Image Matters LLC, unveils the online Native Plant Center for the Chesapeake Bay Region. The online guide allows for the identification and selection of native plant species for habitat restoration in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, an effective method for reducing pollution in the Bay.  Replacing portions of lawn areas and typical landscapes with native plants that suit local conditions reduces or eliminates the need for fertilizers and pesticides which wash into our streams, rivers and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. Once in our waterways, these pollutants fuel the growth of excess algae, which clouds the water and threatens the health of fish, crabs and the entire Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.Users to the portal, www.nativeplantcenter.net, can search for native plants by name, plant type, sun exposure, soil texture and moisture, and even find native plants with the same shape, color, size or other characteristics as some of their favorite non-native plants. The portal also includes a geo-locator feature to identify plants suited to a user’s specific location.  An online network for interacting with other Chesapeake Bay stewards is planned.

The portal uses the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s native plant database, associated with the publication entitled Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed."Since its release in 2003, the demand for the resource has never waned," said Leopoldo Miranda Supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office. "Citizens, schools, non-profit organizations, communities and government agencies used the guide to find the native plants that met their local conditions and interests in order to create landscapes to attract wildlife and reduce the amount of pollutants going into the Chesapeake Bay."To reach more citizens and organizations, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, contracted with Image Matters LLC to create an online version of the guide, the Native Plants Center, Chesapeake Region. Image Matters LLC, a software technology and professional services company that provides advanced solutions and consulting services to government and commercial clients, has expertise in producing Public Science Portals.