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Portland-based conservation group will incorporate Bee City USA into its work, creating momentum in the pollinator movement.

PHOTO BY RICH HATFIELD, COURTESY OF XERCES SOCIETY - A rusty patched bumble bee, one of the threatened species supported by the conservation work of the Xerces Society. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a Portland-based conservation group, has merged with Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA , expanding the group's efforts to promote and protect pollinators.

The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization, begun in 1971, which works with scientists around the world to study and protect butterflies, bees and other small critters. The merger gives it a new presence in local communities.

Currently there are 69 self-designated bee cities and 46 bee campuses. Each affiliate resolves to publicly address and explain what they'll do to raise pollinator awareness, ensure habitat creation and reduce pesticides. Each campus affiliate infuses pollinator conservation into curriculums.

Wilsonville is the only Portland-area Bee City community, but the Xerces Society hopes the merger will inspire more towns and cities to join their movement, said Matthew Shepherd, Xerces Society's director of communications and outreach.

Phyllis Stiles, founder and director of Bee City USA, said that in joining forces, Bee City and Bee Campus will gain support and future stability, while the Xerces Society may access a broader community of exuberant pollinator advocates.

"The organization we launched in 2012 has far exceeded our hopes for engaging communities in pollinator conservation," Stiles said. "Now, the Xerces Society is uniquely qualified to provide the capacity we need to take it to the next level."

Stiles will join the Xerces staff to coordinate Bee City and Bee Campus' expansion, assuring both programs' continuity through the transition.

"Because of Bee City USA, there is a network of communities from coast to coast working to address the decline in pollinators," said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society. "This can-do initiative tapped into Americans' desire to help pollinators, and I am very happy that we'll now be working together to maintain the momentum of the Bee City movement."

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