A new N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources policy will bring more native plants to state parks and historic sites across North Carolina, just in time for Native Plants Week 2023. To celebrate the policy and our state’s amazing native flora, First Lady Kristin Cooper is joining Audubon North Carolina and N.C. Department of Cultural and Natural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson at Jockey’s Ridge State Park today, Wednesday, October 18, at 3 p.m. Brief remarks will be followed by a celebratory planting and tour of the park, including the native plants garden.
Since 2017, Gov. Roy Cooper has designated the third week in October as Native Plants Week. This year, we are excited to celebrate the week by highlighting the new native plants policy, which requires that native trees, shrubs, and other vegetation be used at state parks, historic sites, and other DNCR properties.
North Carolina is home to more than 3,900 native plant species, from the longleaf pine to American beautyberry, making our state one of the most diverse for flora in the South. Native plants are important because native birds and other wildlife are specially adapted to depend on them. Native plants provide food in the form of berries, seeds, nectar, and insects, which are particularly important because most bird species require insects to feed their young. Fewer native plants means fewer insects, which in turn means fewer bird babies growing to adulthood.
Fall is the best time to start a native plants garden. Plants require less water but still have enough time to establish before colder winter weather. Native plants also give a boost to fall migratory birds who need a place to rest and refuel before continuing their journey south.
First Lady Kristin Cooper is a long-time proponent of native plants and partnered with Audubon North Carolina to plant a bird-and-pollinator-friendly garden at the Executive Mansion in Raleigh. North Carolina has passed several bills promoting native plants, led by Senator Bill Rabon and supported by Audubon members across the state.
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) manages, promotes, and enhances the things that people love about North Carolina – its diverse arts and culture, rich history, and spectacular natural areas. Through its programs, the department enhances education, stimulates economic development, improves public health, expands accessibility, and strengthens community resiliency.