Take the $5 a month Pledge!

Back to Natives Needs your financial support today! Just $5 a month would put us back on track

Dear BTN Supporters, (Volunteers, Members, Advisory Council, Board, Donors),

We NEED YOU! Without your financial support, this could be the final year of Back to Natives Restoration. Have you volunteered with Back to Natives? Interned? Served on the Board of Directors or Advisory Council? Back to Natives Needs YOU! Funding is tight, and we have projects that need staff to lead and train volunteers to perform habitat restoration as well as grow more locally native plants in the Back to Natives Nursery. We also need supplies and equipment to secure our Barns and the BTN Nursery grounds. For that, we need your financial support.

I am not asking for much, I personally have committed ALL of my savings, and MORE to this past season. But I am supposed to be staff, not a donor. I am an employee and have no money left to give and must pay my own mortgage, and loans back, that I took out to pay BTN’s debt. Please help me help Back to Natives! I don’t have anything else to commit. I have even taken out personal loans and maxed my credit card to be sure BTN can continue its mission. But…

BTN can’t do it without you. Back To Natives Restoration Needs your support. Just $5 per month is all I ask. Is that too much in comparison to my savings? $5 per month, with EVERYONE on this email list, and social media friends, pledging $5 per month, BTN’s funding would increase by $70,000 per month! Right now we have only raised $40,000 for the Fiscal year 2018, since July 2018(and ends June 30, 2019). But our budget calls for $240,000 to even come close to achieving our habitat restoration and native plant propagation goals. Can you help? Just $5 per month.

You can also contact us to ask what you can pay for directly, to help our mission. we are not seeking items that can be stolen. We are seeking funding for staff, and operations to perform our mission, as well as equipment to make our BTN Nursery more secure. Like steel bars, building materials, steel fences, concrete and more.

You can use our merchant services online to make a donation or become a member. You can still use PayPal, or select “use credit card” and use our secure intuit merchant services!
Even better for BTN, as in no fees taken out of your donation, enroll in Bill Pay through your financial institution. Pledge $5 per month, or more if you can afford more, and have your financial institution send the check to:

Back to Natives Restoration
PO BOX 10820
Santa Ana, CA 92711

You’re always being asked to help with causes that are far away. Those causes are important, but if you really want to see results from your efforts and from your donations, act locally. Donations help to ensure that Back to Natives service learning and habitat restoration programs continue – and we are a 501(c)3 non-profit public charity – so your donations are tax deductible.

If you think Internships should be paid, then help us fund those paid Internships!

You can choose to donate once or on a monthly basis to help assist Back to Natives with the many programs and projects we have in the works. Your small monthly donation will be a HUGE help to Back to Natives! Pledge today. We Need you, to help save the world right here in the County and Southern California!

Thank you for your support,

Reginald I. Durant
Executive Director
Back to Natives Restoration, a 501(c)(3) public charity

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Frightening Fountain Grass

Local high school students say farewell to fountain grass at Halloween volunteer event.

By Darrell King, BTN Communications Intern

Santiago High School NHS_10-31-15_1_smallOn Halloween volunteers from Santiago High School National Honor Society in Garden Grove, CA assisted Back to Natives by digging up tons of fountain grass, an invasive species that harms the environment in Santiago Park.

Originally native to Africa and the Middle East, fountain grass was introduced because of its popularity as an ornamental plant. In California it is spreading (by vehicles, humans, wind, and water) along the coast from the San Francisco Bay Area to Baja California. It endangers native plant communities and raises fuel loads increasing the intensity and spread of fire.

Students broke up in groups, and began digging up fountain grass for three hours.

One person pulled out the grass, while others placed them in trash bags.

Santiago High School NHS_10-31-15_5When 17-year-old Santiago High School student Tony Nguyen was asked to describe his experience in a few words, his response was playful, but firm, “Hardwork,” Nguyen said smiling.

While the work was somewhat strenuous, volunteers enjoyed the experience. “I really liked it. I love the smell here, and how we’re just here with nature,” 17-year-old Emily Huynh said. “I liked the event. I hope I can come back sometime,” Huynh added.

Students were appreciative of Back to Natives Executive Director Reginald Durant.

“He’s very nice, and helpful. He’s extremely experienced about native plants.” 17-year-old Marina Zaky said.

“They showed us what to do. We could easily follow their instructions. I would volunteer again. I just have to make sure to bring my water,” Nguyen joked.

Santiago High School NHS_10-31-15_2Durant didn’t just teach the students the art of digging up fountain grass, he explained why their work was important, then joined the volunteers in the trenches, showing his commitment to restoring habitat.

“Thick infestations of fountain grass interfere with regeneration of native plant species,” said Durant. “Fountain grass is difficult to eliminate – it can reproduce by either fertilized or unfertilized seeds, and seeds may remain viable in the soil for at least seven years. The work these students are doing here today is essential.”

To volunteer with Back to Natives please visit our volunteer webpage for upcoming opportunities.

Biological Pollution: non-native Plants

Artichoke ThistleInvasive non-native organisms are one of the greatest threats to the natural ecosystems of the U.S. and are destroying America’s natural history and identity. These unwelcome plants, insects and other organisms are disrupting the ecology of natural ecosystems, displacing native plant and animal species, and degrading our nation’s unique and diverse biological resources. Aggressive invaders reduce the amount of light, water, nutrients and space available to native species, alter hydrological patterns, soil chemistry, moisture-holding capacity, and erodibility, and change fire regimes. Some exotics are capable of hybridizing with native plant relatives, resulting in unnatural changes to a plant’s genetic makeup; others have been found to harbor plant pathogens that can affect both native and non-native plants. Still others contain toxins that may be lethal to certain animals.

Put simply:

  • Non-native plants reduce biodiversity, and reduce habitat available to native animals like birds and butterflies.
  • Non-native plants alter natural landscapes, and increase the frequency and intensity of fires.
  • Non-native plants contribute to species endangerment.       42% of the nation’s endangered and threatened species have declined as a result of encroaching exotic plants and animals. – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Non-native plants cost us money! Each year, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service spend an estimated 2 and 10 million dollars, respectively, on controlling exotic plants (Westbrooks, 1998).
  • Non-native plants also cause great economic losses and expenditures each year, measured in billions of dollars, for agriculture, forestry, range lands and roadways management (Westbrooks 1998).

Centaurea solstitialisImpacts to Native Animals

Native insects, birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and other animals are dependent on native plants for food and shelter. While some animals have a varied diet and can feed on a wide number of plant species, others are highly specialized and may be restricted to feeding on several or a single plant species. For example, caterpillars of the monarch butterfly have evolved to feed primarily on plants in the genus Asclepias (milkweeds) that contain special chemicals. The term host plant is generally used to describe a plant species that is required food for at least one stage of an insect or other animal. As exotic plants replace our native flora, fewer host plants are available to provide the necessary nutrition for our native wildlife.

Approximately 4,000 species of exotic plants and 500 exotic animals have established free-living populations in the United States. Nearly seven hundred are known to cause severe harm to agriculture at a cost of billions of dollars annually. Over 1,000 exotic plant species have been identified as a threat to our native flora and fauna as a result of their aggressive, invasive characteristics.  While Back to Natives discourages the use of ANY plants not native to your local area, some plants are more harmful than others. To see if you have an aggressive, invasive plant in your garden, visit http://www.cal-ipc.org/ip/inventory/weedlist.php

ScotchBroomRemoval_smallWhat You Can Do

  • Avoid disturbance to natural areas, including clearing of native vegetation and planting of non-native plants.
  • Do not purchase or use invasive exotic species in your landscaping or erosion control projects.
  • For landscaping, use plants that are native to your local region as much as possible.
  • Control exotic invasive plants in your landscape by removing them entirely.
  • Discuss your concerns about invasive exotic plants with nurseries and garden shops and ask them not to sell these species. Provide them with printed material (such as this) explaining the problem to read later. Ask for non-invading alternatives instead.
  • Work with your local government to encourage the use of native plants in their urban and suburban landscapes.
  • Notify land managers of invasive exotic plant occurrences.
  • Offer to assist in exotic plant removal projects. Contact volunteer@backtonatives.org to volunteer!