By Diane Evans



Hans Schnauber, founder of Nature's Choice, is making an impact around the world.Schnauber, creator of the "Sow A Seed" program, has started an environmental awareness craze by making available specific seeds that produce flowers scientifically proven to attract butterflies.

The former computer designer had an idea. "Instead of business competing with the environment, why not combine business with the environment?" he said, and added that flowers nourish butterflies. "I know the seeds I supply will produce both host and nectar plants that are essential to the survival of the species."

Schnauber is not new to the cause of protecting animal and plant life. He has been involved with breeding birds as a hobby since childhood. Currently he is in charge of a breeding and release program to help increase Washington's indigenous Mountain Quail population.

According to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Agencies "Butterflies are the barometer of our ecosystem." Butterflies play an important role in the pollination of our world's food source. It is estimated that eighty percent of the Monarch population has declined over the past few years due to decline of habitat, scarceness of host plants, and insecticide sprays. "I am not a person who dwells on problems. Rather, I believe every problem has an equivalent or greater purpose to the solution. The decline of Monarchs can be rectified quite easily," said Schnauber.

The Monarch breed, as well as a few other species, feed on milkweed, a beautiful perennial that grows wild, yet can be planted from seed. Schnauber said that increasing the number of plants is extremely easy - for just $3.00 he can provide a packet of organically grown milkweed seeds. "It's a cheap way to attract butterflies to your yard," Schnauber said, and play a part in the solution.

Schnauber, who is also credited for starting the Independence Day "National Butterfly Release," believes that if people and businesses would dedicate a small portion of ground for nectar and host plants, that not only would the butterflies come back but birds would increase in numbers as well.

Schnauber said that if everyone who lives in a house in this nation could dedicate one square yard of lawn to milkweed plants and every person living in an apartment would plant a window box with milkweed, the butterfly's habitat would be returned. Schools and businesses could also participate by allocating just a small portion of their grounds to nectar and host plants. "If every city and county that has a fireworks show on the Fourth of July would allocate 10 percent of the fireworks budget to butterflies, every person in the nation could be involved in helping our ecosystem," he said.

Schnauber sees the Fourth of July as the prime time for the release, not only because of the warm weather but also it is a day that people typically gather for picnics and set off fireworks in the evening. Another bonus for conducting the release on Independence Day is that children who shouldn't touch fireworks because of the danger can release butterflies. "They're prettier than sparklers and they won't burn your hand."

Schnauber, who commenced promoting the "National Butterfly Release" in the February issue of Wild-bird Magazine, was delighted with the response. After just one week on the newsstands, responses began pouring in from around the nation and as far away as Norway and Zimbabwe.

Kraig Anderson, owner of Spineless Wonders, a consulting group which specializes in arthropod exhibits, education and project management for zoos nationwide, has been communicating with Schnau-ber for several months on the idea of a butterfly release. A biologist whose field of study centers on entomology, Anderson said he believes the release will serve to be very positive for the butterfly species.

"The release will move people to understand that butterflies are actually animals and are an important part of the ecological system," he said, adding that the release will "bring more publicity to the whole idea - the more information out there, the more people will start to grow the plants."

If you would like to receive information on the "National Butterfly Release" or how you can acquire milkweed seeds for your own garden, Schnauber can be reached at Nature's Choice, P.O. Box 780, Packwood, WA 98361, or e-mail: , or by calling (360) 494-2400.

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