A Natural Choice Crispin Pierce Eau Claire, WI 28 August 2009
Colorful native shrubs and trees; a wildlife pond; a path made of recycled rubber tires; and an abundance of birds, rabbits and insects, including crickets that serenade our home. How did this happen?
In 2005, ten neighbors with interest in native plants formed a committee to work with city manager Mike Huggins to draft an exemption to the weed ordinance.
Members Rick Kayser, Peter Hable, Steve Betchkal, Evan Weiher and I provided input on the draft language, and in the spring of 2006 the city council adopted a native grasses "checklist" that allows city residents to plant native grasses and forbs without the 6" height restriction (city code 8.28.105 Waivers).
We next planted an abundance of natives including Jack in the Pulpit, coneflower, black-eyed Susan, big and little bluestem, yarrow, white pine, bur oak, and now have native cattails growing in our ponds (which we monitor and control for mosquitoes).
Lawns cost Americans about $600 per acre per year to maintain. The damage to bee, bird, and fish populations each year from pesticides used on lawns is about $2 billion. Lawns use about 600 million gallons of gasoline each year just for lawnmowers, which pollute as much per minute as cars.
We believe strongly in the ability of every family to improve our community. Our lush yard needs no water, no mowing, causes no chemical runoff, provides wildlife habitat, controls stormwater runoff, absorbs air pollutants, and saves us money. Measurements show that our property is several degrees cooler than our neighbor's lawn on hot days, and several decibels quieter. We hope to set an example, along with others who have chosen native plantings.
While we recognize that some of our neighbors find our natural yard unattractive, we believe that it adds visual interest, reflects our caring for the environment, and positively contributes to the Third Ward neighborhood. More info: http://www.uwec.edu/piercech/Turf.ppt http://www.uwec.edu/piercech/Turf.ppt