The Lorax has a simple message. We must care for our planet. If we don't, we could drive wildlife and plants to extinction. President Nixon agreed. On signing America's Endangered Species Act, he said, "Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed... America will be more beautiful in the years ahead, thanks to the measure that I have the pleasure of signing into law today." Who knew that the Lorax and President Nixon had so much in common?
Here are ten ways that each of us can speak for threatened and endangered trees, plants and other imperiled creatures.
1. Speak for the trees. Take action to help save the ancient forest home of the spotted owl. A recently release Presidential Directive calls for opening up all of the critical habitat for the northern spotted owl to logging! Please tell President Obama to protect northern spotted owls and their ancient forest homes.
2. Educate people -- but don't limit yourself to the Whisper-ma-Phone. Instead hold a party! By putting on an Endangered Species Day event, you can use your creativity to host an amazing event while educating many people about the importance of saving plants and wildlife.
3. Remember that trees aren't Brown Bar-ba-loots. While some animals may be able to avoid the worst impacts of climate change by moving to a new habitat, trees and plants aren't so lucky. Unlike the Brown Bar-ba-loots, they don't have legs and can't walk away from a threat. The Whitebark pine in Yellowstone Park is a tree imperiled by climate change. Help it by reducing your dependence on fossil fuels -- turn out lights; walk, bike or use public transportation when possible; and choose energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances.
4. Don't buy or build out of truffula (or any other imperiled) trees. Some threatened and endangered tree species, such as mahogany are illegally logged. Look for lumber or furniture made of reused wood or wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Never buy furniture made from rainforest wood. Buy only high post-consumer recycled content paper and rainforest-safe coffee, chocolate, and other products.
5. Make a home for Swomee-Swans. Don't drain wetlands. Some of the most precious habitats in the country are wetlands with unique plants and animals. Significant changes to the landscape will make it difficult for endangered species to adapt.
6. Follow Ted's lead, and get out of town. Visit botanical gardens, arboreta, wildlife refuges, and other locations to learn about endangered plants. Botanical gardens have collections that highlight endangered species. Visiting these gardens is a fun way to educate yourself about these plants, their benefits, their threats, and what you can do to protect them.
7. Don't pollute the homes of Humming-Fish. Herbicides and pesticides may keep yards looking nice but they are in fact hazardous pollutants that affect wildlife at many levels. Many herbicides and pesticides take a long time to degrade, building up in the soils and making their way into creeks, rivers and bays. Minimize or preferably eliminate chemical herbicides and pesticides.
8. Plant that Truffula seed. Help expand natural habitats by planting native trees and plants that provide a home for wildlife. Gardeners can help keep native populations thriving. Native plants provide food and shelter for native birds, wildlife and even fish. Attracting native insects like bees and butterflies can help pollinate plants. At the same time, be mindful of planting non-natives. Some of these are particularly invasive and can expand their range quickly, wreaking havoc on native ecosystems and endangered plants and animals. Eliminate invasives around your home and in community-wide projects.
9. Don't copy the Once-ler. Harvesting threatened or endangered plants in the wild is like chopping down a truffula tree. Many endangered plants live throughout the country. It is illegal to harm a threatened or endangered plant without an "incidental take permit." Also be sure to only buy plants from reputable buyers. Collectors of unusual plants must be particularly careful when purchasing plants to ensure that they are buying species that are legal to own.
10. Be the one who cares a whole awful lot. The greatest threat that faces most endangered plants is the widespread destruction of habitat. By protecting habitat, entire communities of animals and plants can be protected together. Advocate that parks, wildlife refuges, and other open space are protected near your community and in your state.
And then you too might just grow an orange mustache.
Follow Leda Huta on Twitter: www.twitter.com/savespecies