Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
Letter From The Executive Director - Fall 2002
"Saving our legacy of wildflowers is something I am convinced can be accomplished with the right combination of workable ideas and citizens with spirit. In our quest for a better future, I have faith that an appreciation of the values of the past, and for the beauty and health of this natural world we all share, will be high on our agenda." - Lady Bird Johnson
These words concluded Lady Bird Johnson's final section in the book she coauthored with Carlton Lees, "Wildflowers Across America." As the Wildflower Center celebrates its 20th anniversary and the 90th birthday of our founder, we all look back with pride on the growth and many accomplishments of the institution Mrs. Johnson founded. Starting with a small staff and volunteer corps that operated from very modest facilities, the Center has grown into a major national institution fostering a spirit of care for the American landscape and the rich diversity of native plants and wildflowers that form its regions.
All her life, Lady Bird Johnson has seen, loved, and understood the natural beauty of every region she visited. She has valued that each place has its own special quality and character and that when this quality is appreciated, protected, and preserved our landscapes will be not only beautiful - they will be healthy. Her awareness that the beauty of the land and the health of the land are linked together is one of profound importance. It is this acknowledgement that has led the Wildflower Center to support educational and research initiatives for plant conservation, habitat protection, and landscape restoration throughout the years.
Looking ahead to the challenges of the next 20 years and beyond, more than ever we will need the "right combination of workable ideas and citizens with spirit." Each of us has not only the opportunity but also the responsibility to be a "citizen of spirit." We must now seek out the most "workable ideas" to address the concerns of our own time.
Our 20th anniversary coincides with America's widening recognition of the ominous threats to the richness, beauty, health, and diversity of our natural landscape. The beauty and ecological health of our natural landscape continues to be relentlessly eroded by threats including poorly planned development, urban sprawl, habitat fragmentation and loss, development of roads, poor land-management practices, and competition from exotic invasive species. And recent studies indicating that 29 percent of our native flora faces extinction over the next few decades demands of us a new sense of urgency and compels us to action.
- Funding recovery programs for rare and endangered plant species;
- Implementing aggressive efforts to prevent the introduction of invasive exotic plant species and the control of such species when they become established in the wild;
- Educating the public about the importance of protecting the integrity of native plant communities;
- Directing human development away from sensitive habitats and intact plant communities;
- Exploring ways to more sensitively integrate human culture into the natural world while simultaneously bringing that natural world back into our human communities;
- Restoring the teaching of botany and expanding the teaching of ecology in our schools from elementary through college levels; and
- Building in each and every region a sense of ecological citizenship by fostering a pride and respect for the natural character of the places we live?
Only when these kinds of initiatives are integrated into our public policy will we be able to say that we have placed biological diversity and the health of our natural world "high on our national agenda."
If our agenda does not include the protection of the natural world, if we continue to erode the rich diversity of plant life, plant communities, and all other forms of life that depend on plants, then we will also have undermined the foundations of our own health, our own security, and our own economy - for these too are all linked. To bring the beauty and health of the land back to the forefront of our national agenda is the most important thing we can do for the beautiful legacy of wildflowers and native plants that we have inherited and - which as responsible "citizens of spirit" - we must pass on to future generations.
Robert G. Breunig, Ph.D