A new house bill in Washington may bring millions of dollars to North Carolina to protect the state's biodiversity. Some of the money will be earmarked for protecting threatened plant life for the very first time.

Habitat loss due to development, severe drought, flooding, declining pollinator counts, and invasive plants all threaten the roughly 6,000 plant species of North Carolina, and yet they've so far been excluded from the list of Species of Greatest Conservation Need. If passed by Congress, the bipartisan Recovering America's Wildlife Act, will bring more than $20 million annually to the state to protect biodiversity — including plants.

Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator Cindy Simpson says some of those dollars will go to work hiring law enforcement.

"There've been issues on the coast where they had poachers go onto conservation land and dig up Venus flytraps," says Simpson. "And so that's a very rare plant. It's only known for North Carolina and one or two places on the adjacent South Carolina coast. In the mountains you've got people that poach ginger."

Threatened plants also include Piedmont horsebalm in Guilford County, and Forsyth County's northern cup plant. Simpson says the federal dollars will also go toward collecting and propagating seeds of plants in decline, conducting prescribed burns to control invasive species, and monitoring pest infestations.



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