I spoke to the head of the DC Chapter of the Native Plant Society today about helping out with the "native plants" table at the seed exchange we are holding this January at the USNA. We were looking for a few volunteers to staff this staff (there will be 5 others - annuals, perennials, edible, etc.) and help sort the seeds for trading as attendees come in. Then assist in the trading itself just to keep things orderly. Nothing strenuous and hopefully fun afternoon for all. I offered a few of the local Native Plant groups the opportunity to participate and to put our their information, membership applications, and such.
Her reaction to the request was polite but a definite "NO." Their position is not to support native plant sales or seed trading. Further, they do not encourage planting of natives out of what occurs "naturally."
This is as extreme a position as I've heard taken so far on natives and I'd thought they were getting pretty authoritarian and intolerant about some of their policies already. Since some of their members run native plant nurseries and native seed companies, I thought this was an interesting direction to take.
Personally, I sympathize with their cause and the general idea of preserving natives. Wondering though with this new policy, are they advocating that natives not be used in home gardens? Or are they saying let everything go back to nature and have no gardens? What happens when the native plants fail to take over and more and more exotics move in (as happens in most experiments)? Do they just keep stripping the land and reseeding or hope that a few natives will fight it out? Somehow I think these theories need to be explored and thought through a bit more before implementation.
I think their is a balance we can strike in our own gardens between "exotics" and "natives" and it is up to each individual gardener to find their own path.