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Homegrown National Park

Douglas Tallamy in his recent book Nature’s Best Hope states that several things point us toward a new approach to conservation. He proposes a Homegrown National Park in the following ways:

  • He writes, “Conservation that is confined to parks will not preserve species in the long run, because these areas are too small and too separated from one another.” Locally, that can be seen in Bi-State Regional Commission’s “Quad Cities, Illinois-Iowa Metropolitan Area Greenway Plan”. It identifies potential greenway connections and highlights the Mississippi as the important greenway asset it is. There are 13 named  creeks and many ravines in Illinois; 19 creeks and many ravines in the Iowa Quad Cities that can be linked to create better flyways and habitat.
  • He continues, ‘Although we must continue to protect good habitat wherever it still exists, we can no longer afford to ignore the ecological value of the land outside of our preserves.’ Close by, the areas between isolated habitat fragments, like our business parks and backyards, can connect to make the homegrown national park he proposes.
  • He further explains, “Restoring habitat where we live and work, and to a lesser extent where we farm and graze, will go a long way toward building biological corridors that connect preserved habitat fragments with one another.” Think pollinator and bird migration here.
  • Tallamy enters a fourth point then. “Creating biological corridors will enlarge the populations of plants and animals within protected habitat, enabling them to weather normal population fluctuations indefinitely.’
  • And finally, he writes, “Across the United States, millions of acres now covered in lawn can be quickly restored to viable habitat by untrained citizens with minimal expense and without any costly changes to infrastructure simply by planting native plants.”  River Action outlines this in its booklet “6 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Mississippi River” free to the public for the asking and online at riveraction.org.

It includes landscaping plans and resources for rain gardens, prairie plantings, and bioswales.
Let’s not wait for government to do it; let’s take a new approach to conservation and start it in our yards.