Support your local pollinator; create habitats for helpful creatures

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Tualatin Soil & Water Conservation District are promoting native pollinators, such as bees, in support of “National Pollinator Week,” which is June 17-23 this year.

Pollinators provide crucial assistance to fruit, vegetable and seed crops — more than three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators to reproduce —- but many pollinator population numbers are falling due to a number of factors, including habitat loss, disease, parasites and pesticides.

Agricultural producers across the nation work with NRCS to create an ideal habitat for pollinators and increase populations in simple and significant ways. In the Tualatin River Basin, the local soil and water conservation district works in partnership with NRCS and Clean Water Services to put conservation measures into practice, especially through streamside restoration projects.

The Tualatin soil and water conservation district has been expanding riparian restoration projects through the “enhanced conservation reserve enhancement program” and the “vegetated buffer areas for conservation and commerce program.”

This work is part of one of the first temperature-trading programs in the country. Temperature trading allows stormwater permit holders to meet their permit requirements for stream water temperatures through restoration projects with a wide variety of environmental benefits. Last year, the conservation district also successfully expanded several restoration programs, including wetland reserves and the agricultural water enhancements administered by NRCS.

Lacey Townsend, Tualatin Soil & Water Conservation District manager, is excited about the increased volume of restoration work in the county and the positive role it plays in wildlife conservation — especially for pollinators.

She pointed out that through the first seven years of the program, about 45 landowners helped establish riparian buffers on nearly 445 acres in rural Washington County, totaling almost 27 miles of streams.

“This year, we added 11 new projects, totaling 57.7 acres and 5.4 stream miles,” Townsend added.

Many of the 277,500 plants that were planted attract native pollinators such as the Mason bee, while protecting water quality and improving wildlife habit for many other species.

Each June, NRCS and conservation partners salute pollinators. Tualatin Soil & Water Conservation District will celebrate with an online educational campaign through its website and Facebook pages. The sites are filled with photos of native pollinators and the plants they inhabit, along with useful tips for helping to conserve pollinators.

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