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County Board Approves New Policy to Give Threatened Local Habitats New Life



The County Board of Supervisors today took action to advance environmental sustainability, protect the unique habitat and character of our region, and address the climate crisis by unanimously approving a package of proposals to provide residents and businesses with tools to expand native plants and natural habitats.

The San Diego region is recognized as one of the most biologically diverse counties in the United States, but in recent decades threats from development, wildfire, and the effects of climate change have begun to threaten critical habitat.

The comprehensive policy package was developed over a year and a half by the San Diego Regional Biodiversity Working Group, formed through a proposal from County Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Nathan Fletcher.

“Climate change is threatening our region’s unique habitats and ecosystems, but the good news is that we have the power to protect these fragile habitats, and this initiative will make doing so easier than ever,” said Supervisor Lawson-Remer.

“This policy will provide incentives to San Diego County residents, landscapers, and businesses to protect the biodiversity that makes our region so beautiful and unique, as well as require native plants be used in many County projects.”

"I am pleased to see the action we initiated moving forward in a bold direction," said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. "Our region is one of the most biodiverse on the planet and our native plants initiatives will help in fostering biodiversity, providing habitat, facilitating habitat corridors, and drought management and stormwater reduction."

The Board of Supervisors voted to approve eight key strategies to ramp up native plant vegetation:

  • Develop a Native Plants Landscaping Design Manual to establish native plant landscaping definitions, design and installation best practices, and recommended installation parameters. Require native plant landscaping at new County facilities and in major County facility landscape retrofits when feasible.
  • Develop a program website to serve as a regional, online educational and training resource and offer dedicated native plant landscaping education and promotion materials for residents, regional partners, and other agencies to use in their jurisdictions.
  • Develop educational materials and resources to teach best practices for the design, installation, maintenance, and propagation of native plants; these materials will advance equity by ensuring language-accessible training is available for residents and landscaping professionals.
  • Partner with School Districts to install school demonstration gardens and develop educational materials for San Diego County students.
  • Develop a landscaping professional certification program in collaboration with community colleges and other regional partners, and provide the public with a list of certified professionals on the program website.
  • Develop a program to incentivize native plant landscaping for private development in the unincorporated area, such as offering rebates for converting lawns to native vegetation.
  • Develop free landscape design templates and a web-based tool for integration into the Program website to offer residents easy-to-use, tailorable design plans for installing native plant landscaping.

Read the full policy HERE