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Grow Native!

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2003

Last revision: Nov. 15, 2010

Box 180, Jefferson City MO 65102.

Our newest tool to help the native landscaper is our recently updated web site. You can reach it by going to www.grownative.org or via a link on the Missouri Conservation website. <www.missouriconservation.org>. The Grow Native! site includes native landscaping information, plus full-color images and detailed descriptions of many native perennials, shrubs and trees. You'll also find loads of resource information, including answers to frequently asked questions. It'll also tell you how to connect with your local Conservation Department Private Land Conservationist for personalized advice about how to best manage and steward your land.

Your private land conservationist also can provide you with the latest information about programs included in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (Farm Bill). The farm bill stresses use of native plant materials to create more natural landscapes and provide more benefits to Missouri wildlife. Farm bill programs like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provide landowners many benefits, including cost-share, land rental payments, incentive payments and technical assistance.

Our web site also lists retail nurseries where you can purchase native plant materials. Your best sources for quality Missouri-native plants and garden and landscaping materials are nurseries that exhibit the Grow Native! logo in displays and on plant tags.

The Grow Native! program recently joined with the Missouri Department of Transportation to help increase native vegetation along state roadsides. Last April, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission allocated $1 million for use in restoring native plants on 1,000 acres along Missouri rights-of-way. The use of native plants has practical--as well as aesthetic--value in that it reduces the need for mowing and other maintenance along state roads.

The Conservation Department will contribute additional funding to the project and will assist with identifying sites, selecting species and contracting roadside plantings. Species selection will emphasize both multi-season interest and safety.

Stacy Armstrong, The Highway Department's Roadside Manager, is pleased with the cooperation between the two state agencies. "MoDOT has been using native grasses and wildflowers on its roadsides for years, but Grow Native! is helping us strengthen the program," she said.

Perhaps the sight of beautiful native plants along our roadsides will inspire you to restore a bit of Missouri's natural heritage where you live. The benefits go far beyond beauty. Native plants are durable, require less care and usually thrive without fertilizers and pesticides.

Native plants also benefit wildlife. We've already watched songbirds flock to our property to eat ripe viburnam berries and seen multitudes of brilliant orange monarchs lighting on the violet clusters of our New England asters.

We're also frequently entranced by the distant calls of bobwhite quail. The quail are especially welcome in this place where, as our neighbor said, "We don't have those around here much anymore."A few months back, he stopped us again. "Don't be surprised," he said, "if you see some of those natives on our place." Those words inspired me all over again.

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