Port St. Lucie should encourage native landscaping, not cite it

View the original Letter to the Editor at TCPalm.com.

Unbelievable. Why is Port St. Lucie going after a University of Florida master gardener, Diane Goldberg, whose expertise and leadership has educated the community and encouraged native plants? The city cites code covering “High Grass and Weeds, Over 12 inches, Overgrowth, and Responsibility.” They should be going after folks who have the real weeds — exotic, invasive plants like Brazilian Pepper, not Goldberg’s native plants!

According to the 2019 Florida Statute 373.185(3)(C): ”A local government ordinance may not prohibit or be enforced so as to prohibit any property owner from implementing Florida friendly landscaping on his or her land.” University of Florida has produced a “Model Native Plant Landscape Ordinance Handbook” that PSL can use to redo their ordinance.

PSL should consult with them and Goldberg. Native landscaping can be very attractive and beneficial to our environment. Only 3% to 5% of our Earth remains in its natural state. We must make our yards into “natural sanctuaries” by planting natives for our survival.

Goldberg is trying to help save us from the annual 4 1 billion pounds of carbon emissions from mowers and blowers. Already, 64% to 88% of our drinking water is wasted on lawns, and the chemicals used (insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers) are killing our bees, fish, wildlife, and risking human health due to the algae and Cyanobacteria in our waterways.

Our private lands are essential for everyone’s existence. We must learn to live with nature, not fight it. We should not have invasive plants and turf-grass lawns that require chemicals and waste precious drinking water while destroying native plants, trees, and animals.

PSL is lucky to have Goldberg living there and should consult with her and the University of Florida to change the local ordinance to support native plants for our survival.

Richard H. Baker is the president of the Pelican Island Audubon Society.

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