Celebrate valuable ecosystem services June 16 to 22

Pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat, according to officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s estimated that animal pollinators like bees, butterflies and bats are necessary for the reproduction of 90 percent of flowering plants. Unfortunately, the numbers of both native pollinators and domesticated bee populations are declining.

Participating in National Pollinator Week June 16-22 — designated seven years ago by the U.S. Senate — can help. The purpose of the annual observation is to provide an opportunity to celebrate the valuable ecosystem services pollinators provide, learn more about bees, birds, butterflies, bats and other pollinators, and lend them a hand via specific gardening, landscaping and land management practices.

What we can do:

plant native plants

There’s often a lack of native bee habitat and forage near modern day farms and landscapes. Adding native plantings to improve pollinator habitat in your yard or landscape is one way to help.

Oregon natives include Tall Oregongrape, an early blooming sun lover, Wedgeleaf or Redstem Ceanothus, Oceanspray with its foamy white flower clusters, Red flowering currant for its ability to attract hummingbirds, and Nootka Rose. Oregon Crabapple, Bitter Cherry, Thimbleberry, Yarrow, Showy Milkweed for its ability to attract bees and as a food source for monarch butterflies, and Goldenrod, a late summer bloomer, are other helpful choices. Note: some of these plants are most easily found at nurseries specializing in native plants.

Land managers and family forestland owners can help enhance pollinator habitat by providing connectivity between vegetation areas via corridors of perennials, shrubs, and trees. Add native plantings to stream side areas. Also, as much as possible, remove invasive species and lawn areas.

The Oregon Department of Forestry currently provides technical assistance to rural landowners enrolled in the Conservation Resource Enhancement Program (CREP). Under this Farm Service Agency agricultural program, ODF works cooperatively with other program partners including the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Soil & Water Conservation Districts and local watershed groups to help landowners plant trees and shrubs along streamside buffers.

“These plantings provide shade and cooler water temperatures that benefit fish, and also provide a variety of vegetative species that benefit insects and wildlife,” said Mike Kroon, Incentives Coordinator for ODF. “Control of invasive species is a requirement of participation in CREP,” he added.

Know your ‘ecoregion’

Developed by the U.S. Forest Service, Baileys Ecoregions of the United States is a management tool system created to predict responses to land management practices throughout large areas.

You can find out your ecoregion — and the native plants that are unique to it — by entering your zip code online, at:

Other ideas

Other flowering plants that support nectar and pollen throughout the growing season include California poppy, Blue Flax and Yellow Lupine. Plants to attract butterflies: Wallflower, Purple coneflower, Black-eyed Susan. When planting, locate flowering plants in full sun where they’re protected from wind. Wet mud areas will provide butterflies with the moisture and minerals they need to stay healthy. Hummingbirds are other good pollinators; to attract them to your yard or garden, include Giant or Eastern Columbine, Lupine, Four O’Clocks or Scarlet Sage.

Resist the urge to have a totally manicured lawn and garden — leave bare ground for ground nesting bees, and areas of leaf litter for other insects. Wherever possible, reduce the use of pesticides in your garden to help you in your efforts. Contact your local county extension agent or native plant society for help with questions or concerns.

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