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11/28/2017

DCNR Updating Wild Plant Regulations

​Harrisburg, PA - Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today announced that the department is moving through the process of updating the regulations that apply to the conservation of native wild plants in Pennsylvania.

“Many people don’t realize that there are many more species of plants in the world than there are animals,” Dunn said. “Pennsylvania is home to about 3,000 plant species -- about two-thirds of those are considered native to the commonwealth, and 347 of them are currently considered rare, threatened, or endangered.”

The mission of DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry includes protecting and managing native wild flora resources by determining status, classifying, and conserving native wild plants. Pennsylvania’s wild plant classifications includes rare, threatened and endangered, as well as others such as vulnerable, extirpated, tentatively undetermined and special population.

The proposed updates to the list include:

  • Nine plants are being added
  • Nine plants are moving from a lower classification to a higher one
  • Two plants are being downgraded
  • Thirty-one plants are being removed from the list
  • Scientific name changes are occurring for 79 species

The Wild Resource Conservation Act of 1982 gave the Department of Environmental Resources (predecessor of DCNR and the Department of Environmental Protection) the authority to classify native rare plants. The Chapter 45 native wild plant regulations were last updated in 1993. DCNR has reviewed more than 20 years of field and taxonomic data to make these regulation updates.

The proposed rulemaking was printed in the PA Bulletin Nov. 25. There is a 30-day public comment period on the regulations. Comments can be submitted to RA-Ch45WildPlant@pa.gov.

DCNR will address all comments. After DCNR responds to all comments and finalizes the rulemaking, it will go back out for review by the IRRC and legislative committees, and is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin as final.

DCNR will address comments from the public, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and the House and Senate Committees on Environmental Resources and Energy. After addressing all comments, the department will resubmit the rulemaking for review by IRRC and the legislative committees. Following a public meeting, the Legislative Reference Bureau will publish the rulemaking as final in the PA Bulletin.

The department receives plant data, information, and classification recommendations from the Pennsylvania Biological Survey’s (PABS) Vascular Plant Technical Committee, which is comprised of professional botanists. DCNR also receives input from a public forum of the committee -- the Rare Plant Forum; which is attended by 50-80 amateur and professional botanists from across the state.

Many factors can threaten populations of plants and cause them to become rare. Some of the most common threats to plants in Pennsylvania include:

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation, due to development or conversion of habitat
  • Invasive plants displacing native plants
  • Creation of more edge habitat, increasing the threat of invasive plant species
  • Selective browsing by white-tailed deer or other wildlife may prevent plants from reproducing
  • Over-collected by people

There are some things everyone can do to help native wild plants:

  • Don’t pick native wild plants. Picking flowers means the plant will not go to seed. Take pictures, but leave the flowers in their habitats.
  • Do not remove plants from the wild to plant at home. They generally will not survive and removing them hurts their natural populations.
  • Don’t plant invasives and remove them at home. This will prevent their spread to other areas.
  • Plant natives in your yard, and ask for them at the garden center.

For more information about the rulemaking and wild plants, visit the DCNR website at www.dcnr.pa.gov, choose “Conservation.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Christina Novak, 717-579-5177; cnovak@pa.gov

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