I love to spend my free time exploring the natural areas around me, birding and looking for butterflies and other wildlife. However, during the government shutdown, many of my favorite places are closed to visitors. All national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges are now inaccessible to the public until this shutdown is resolved.
Since I knew that the shutdown was looming, I made a point of visiting my local national wildlife refuge this past weekend. The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is one of my all time favorite places to see birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.
But sadly there will be no opportunity to visit there until our elected officials stop acting like kindergardeners.
Earlier this week my team mate Vincent Vizachero was lamenting that the USDA plants database is also shut down. And then he went on to talk about his favorite places to see native plants that weren’t impacted by the government shutdown.
So I thought I’d chime in with my favorite places to see wildlife in native plant communities that will still be open despite the government shutdown. You know that wildlife will be abundant in any place that makes locally native plants a priority.
Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve
Located in beautiful Bucks County, PA, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve is the premier destination for seeing and learning about the native plants of the Delaware Valley region. The 134-acre Preserve features more than 800 species of native plants in a naturalistic setting, ready for you to discover. Explore the best hiking and nature trails in all of Bucks County. Picturesque woodlands, meadows, ponds and Pidcock Creek are set amidst a changing collection of wildflowers, birds and wildlife.
- I describe my visit to Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve with lots of photos
Mount Cuba Center
Mount Cuba Center is dedicated to preserving the native plants of the Piedmont. Located near Hockessin, DE Mt. Cuba Center is a botanical garden with a focus on native plants and ecosystems. We have over 50 acres of display gardens and over 500 acres of natural lands.
“I want this to be a place where people will learn to appreciate our native plants and to see how these plants can enrich their lives so that they, in turn, will become conservators of our natural habitats.”
Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland
- View my photos and read about my visit to Mount Cuba Center
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is located just south of Austin, TX. The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.
Decades ago, Mrs. Johnson recognized that our country was losing its natural landscapes and its natural beauty. As much as 30 percent of the world’s native flora is at risk of extinction. The Wildflower Center was intended to help preserve and restore that beauty and the biological richness of North America. Since then, the Center has become one of the country’s most credible research institutions and effective advocates for native plants.
The Center’s gardens display the native plants of the Central Texas Hill Country, South and West Texas, while the Plant Conservation Program protects the ecological heritage of Texas by conserving its rare and endangered flora. The Native Plant Information Network is a database of more than 7,200 native species available online.
The Land Restoration Program applies knowledge of ecological processes to restoring damaged landscapes. The Center’s education programs for children and adults teach people about their natural surroundings and how to grow native plants in their own backyards.
- I describe my visit to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center with lots of photos
Coastal Maine Botanical Garden
The Coastal Maine Botanical Garden is located near Boothbay, ME. The mission of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is to protect, preserve, and enhance the botanical heritage and natural landscapes of coastal Maine for people of all ages through horticulture, education, and research.
Botanical gardens true roots are in the geology and natural and human history of their sites, topography, and geographical location. Their past, present, and future are the work of highly committed individuals.
On Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens’ 250 acres, the natural elements are more evident than in smaller, more-manicured properties or urban settings.
- Here’s my description of my visit to Coastal Maine Botanical Garden
Rio Grande Nature Center
The Rio Grande Nature Center State Park is in Albuquerque, NM. Located on the Rio Grande flyway, the park offers excellent birdwatching opportunities throughout the year. There are indoor and outdoor wildlife viewing areas overlooking ponds, and trail access to the Rio Grande.
A highlight for me is the native plant demonstration garden, which showcases the native flora of the Bosque. Native grasses, cacti, and blooming perennials, including the beautiful Buffalo Gourd, line the winding wooded pathways, with some high raised beds mixed in–and every plant is even labeled, making it very easy to learn more about each of the plants in each area.
- Read all about my visit to Rio Grande Nature Center
How About You?
What are your favorite places to see wildlife in native plant communities around the country?
Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.
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