NEPCoP at 19
By Jessica Korecki, NEPCoP Administrative Coordinator
For just shy of 20 years, the New England Plant Conservation Program (NEPCoP) has provided a forum for discussion and collaborative action for the conservation of rare plant species and their habitats throughout New England. This program, begun and continuously administered by New England Wild Flower Society, held its first meeting in 1991 and now draws botanists and other conservation professionals from over 68 private organizations and public agencies. In alignment with the mission of the Society, the goal of NEPCoP is to prevent the extirpation and promote the recovery in the wild of the region’s rare and endangered plants. NEPCoP’s professional members represent state and federal agencies, universities and colleges, conservation organizations, and private consulting groups. They are individuals of proven dedication to the New England landscape.
NEPCoP’s membership, now totaling approximately 140 people, is broken up into six state task forces. These groups meet yearly to discuss conservation issues within their individual states and throughout the region. The Society is currently hard at work coordinating and participating in these six meetings which take place every January; one in each New England state. NEPCoP provides input on policy and direction for conservation activities, schedules field surveys of regionally rare plant species populations at regular intervals, and creates management plans for populations of endangered plants throughout the region.
The task force meetings also provide an educational opportunity and time for interdisciplinary discussions on a variety of topics to assist in the continual refinement of plant species identification skills and further development of a comprehensive understanding of the New England environment. Topics for 2010 include a survey of the genus Bidens, identification characteristics of species both common and rare in this genus in New England, discussion of seed collection methods and protocols, the pros and cons of ex situ or “off-site” species conservation, and a presentation of photographic techniques, including tricks for capturing small details of a plant species for later identification.
If you are interested in learning more about the New England landscape and participating in actions to monitor and maintain special species and important habitats, we encourage you to consider volunteering with New England Wild Flower Society’s Plant Conservation Volunteer Corps, the natural expansion of the New England Plant Conservation Program Task Forces, made up of dedicated volunteer “amateur” botanists. More information is available at www.newenglandwild.org/protect/rare-plants-and-conservation/Volunteer.