2.14.12 Long Island Native Plant Initiative

The Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI) has received a $75,000 grant from BP Solar to support the organization’s mission of preserving the genetic integrity of Long Island’s native plants.  The grant is associated with the installation of the 200-acre Long Island Solar Farm located at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York.

Polly Weigand, the Executive Director of LNPI, is a former Executive Director of Friends of the Bay.  Native plants are very important to the water quality in our harbors and bays because they help to maintain healthy ecosystems.   The LNPI was formed to facilitate the commercial production of ecotypic native plants, which are those that are genetically adapted and are the most ecologically appropriate for managed landscapes and habitat restorations on Long Island.  Ecotypic plants require relatively little fertilizer, irrigation, or other costly inputs but were not readily available to the nursery industry prior to LINPI’s leadership.  Excess use of fertilizers can have a negative impact on water quality.

Ms. Weigand added, “Suffolk is New York’s leading county in wholesale value of agricultural products and LINPI’s goals are intentionally focused on supporting this important industry by providing a diverse array of native plant species to enhance commercial propagation and sales.” The BP Solar grant is instrumental in advancing LINPI’s progressive vision and will help sustain the organization’s mission and outreach. “We are grateful to BP Solar for recognizing the value of native plant genetic diversity and LINPI’s efforts in preserving local biodiversity by fostering the market availability of native plant materials,” stated Paul Anderson, LINPI Board President.

Pete Resler, Communications and External Affairs Manager for BP Solar, stated, “We are very pleased to help LINPI further advance its important work.  It is important to us to minimize our impact on the environment.  Polly was instrumental in helping us select native plants that will constitute the ground cover under the solar panels at the Long Island Solar Farm and we look forward to LINPI helping others restore precious lands with native plants for many years to come.”

LINPI is a cooperative volunteer not-for-profit effort of over 30 organizations, governmental agencies, nursery professionals, and citizens founded in 2005 by Polly Weigand, Technician for the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District.  LINPI continues to pioneer the collection and banking of seed from over 35 native grasses, herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees on Long Island.  LINPI has produced the first commercially available Source Identified certified Long Island ecotypic seed for four native grass species that are available for use in native plant propagation, habitat restoration, landscape plantings, and conservation projects.  The organization also supplies plant materials to the nursery industry and general public through an annual plant sale. For further information or to become a LINPI volunteer, contact Polly Weigand, Polly.Weigand@suffolkcountyny.gov or (631) 727-2315×3.