Facing Colorado River shortage, 30 urban suppliers pledge to target decorative grasses to increase market
For decades, environmentalists have lamented the effects of water restrictions on the wildland landscapes of the northwest. The result has been a sharp decline in the number of old-growth trees, wildlife and aquatic life, and an increase in water-use and environmental degradation.
Now, as an attempt to restore a more natural look to the landscape of the region, 30 urban suppliers in Colorado have organized to deliver decorative grasses and other native plants to community parks to aid water conservation efforts, according to a report from CityLab.
That’s the third year of a program that provides the plants to public and community gardens and other urban projects. The program is the brainchild of the Colorado Division of Parks and Recreation (CDP).
The first year of the program saw CDP contract with local farms that offered the plants for free, allowing people to use them in their gardens without having to buy them. The program was a success. About 12% of the available plants were purchased by city and county governments, according to a 2012 report by the Colorado Division of Forestry. That prompted CDP to expand the program to include community gardens and other municipal projects that wanted decorative grasses for the parks in need of water conservation.
In 2010, the program won a contest for the best new idea by a city or county from the top 25 cities and counties in the state.
By expanding the program to 30 communities in 2012, the division hopes to expand the supply of decorative grasses and other native plants to all of the city parks with limited access to water.
The program’s mission is to provide an abundance of native plants to city parks, community gardens, and other urban projects without sacrificing the aesthetic elements to which some people feel attached. One of the group’s goals is to make the program sustainable and provide enough native plants to ensure that the plants are available for the next 20 years.
“We all know how important native plants are to the health of our community,” said Karen Tippett, a master gardener at the Denver Botanic Gardens and program lead at CityLab.
“We all need to be able to enjoy the beauty and natural diversity of our parks, and to feel that there’s