Our mission, “To conserve California native plants and their natural habitats, and increase understanding, appreciation, and horticultural use of native plants” describes what we do. But why would we do this in a pandemic? As a volunteer organization dedicated to providing a public benefit, we know we are not fighting on the front line of the pandemic, but we also know more certainly than ever that protecting our natural resources is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Conservation issues loom always. In fact, unwise land use proposals can prevail when public agencies are distracted by COVID-19 and now require all the more scrutiny from CNPS-EB. Increasing understanding and appreciation of native plants, even in a pandemic, is therefore a necessity too because what we appreciate, we protect. COVID-19 has led Americans to a newfound appreciation of nature, and especially the natural areas in their local communities. What an opportunity for CNPS-EB!
That means we have much to do. In 2021, our biggest aim is to set chapter goals for how best to conserve and increase understanding of native plants. Meanwhile, we will be holding regular speaker programs online, continuing to advocate for our native flora (read about a recent significant victory in the effort to preserve Tesla Park), operating Native Here Nursery with COVID-safe procedures and sales, and eventually, when CNPS and land-management agency policies allow, once again organizing field trips and restoration work days. We are adjusting to the pandemic by supporting online nursery orders, engaging with a wider audience through Instagram and Facebook, and packing our website with new features, such as easy access to our Rare Plant Database. We are also using this time to address internal housekeeping issues such as electronic filing systems, just like you are cleaning out desk drawers and the dreaded back closet.
What you can do right now is take a walk on a nearby wildland: check out our guides to some local East Bay gems. Then drop a note to the land management agency letting them know how much you appreciate the land and how important good stewardship of native plants is to you.
—Sally de Becker, President, CNPS East Bay Chapter