MONTCLAIR, New Jersey (WABC) -- As Earth Day approaches, officials in Montclair, New Jersey, have voted unanimously for a first reading of an ordinance to have native species make up 70% of all new plants and trees on public land.
The bill is named after the founder of the Northeast Earth Coalition, Jose German Gomez, who found his love for the environment as a Boy Scout in Puerto Rico and turned that love into activism.
"We have over 65 maybe 70 species of native plants, most of them from the Northeast," Gomez said. "We are losing 70% of the population of pollinators across the nation, so Montclair is not isolated."
The goal is to increase native pollinator populations like bees and butterflies.
"If we don't have habitat for them, they will be extinct, and that is what is happening now," Gomez said. "If we don't have pollinators, we don't have food, and that is the most important connection."
City officials say two parks will be redone later this year, and the hope is to replace the non-native plants.
"It's really important for people of color and minority groups to get involved, because they are the most vulnerable people in environmental issues," Gomez said. "They are the people suffering from asthma, from air pollution, they are the people suffering for lack of food."
The bill would become law after a hearing and a vote on a second reading.
"The global environmental crisis that we are facing, it's impossible for us to handle everything," Gomez said. "But if we do the transformation in our local community, that will have a global impact."