Earth Day 2021 in Bend: Pathways to Pollination

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Connect your garden to the Pollinator Pathway with complimentary seed packets

Earth Day is April 22, 2021, and this year we’re celebrating by focusing on the vital role that pollinators play in keeping our ecosystems healthy.

Most of us know that populations of pollinator species like bees, butterflies, moths, bats, and hummingbirds are increasingly under threat by human activity, but it can’t be overstated. According to the United Nations, almost 35% of invertebrate pollinators—primarily bees and butterflies—now face global extinction.

Did you know that bees, butterflies, and other animal pollinators provide support for:

  • Nearly 90% of world’s wildflowers?
  • More than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land?
  • The conservation of biodiversity?

So, what can we do to support pollinators in Central Oregon? Fortunately, like many big problems, small steps taken by many people at the same time can make a world of difference.

In that spirit, a new volunteer-driven project in Bend is focused on encouraging residents and business owners to plant pollinator-friendly gardens. The Bend Pollinator Pathway was launched by Basey Klopp, a Bend-ite who worked for a native plant nursery. 

“The great news is that we know exactly what we need to do,” Klopp said in an interview with the Bend Bulletin. “We need to plant native plants.”

One of those native plants is milkweed, which isn’t a weed at all, but a native wildflower that is the sole host plant for endangered monarch butterflies. We have a limited supply of complimentary milkweed seed packets (each with about 100 seeds) available at the Skjersaa Group office.

The vision of the Bend Pollinator Pathway is based on the knowledge that some pollinator species travel short distances within their habitat. By connecting those habitats, Bend can support diverse populations of pollinators, according to Klopp, and essentially create pollinator highways from east to west and north to south in Bend.

The hope of the initiative is that as local businesses make plans for landscaping large garden beds on their commercial properties, and homeowners prepare to style their outdoor spaces with decorative landscaping, raised beds, and even container gardens, they will include pollinator-friendly plants, like milkweed.

Photo courtesy of the Bend Pollinator Pathway Facebook page.

Through partnerships with the City of Bend, Bend Park and Recreation District, and local businesses, the Bend Pollinator Pathway has several projects slated for this spring including:

  • Planting a native pollinator habitat at Worthy Brewing’s Garden Club
  • Adding similar gardens that connect the east side with the Deschutes River
  • Planting gardens at the Veterans Memorial Bridge on Newport Avenue, the intersection of Wall and Bond Streets, the Franklin’s Corner Community Garden, and at three roundabouts in the Orchard District neighborhood
  • Training volunteers
  • Providing easy-to-follow tips to residents

Here are some easy things you can do right now at your home or business to protect bees, butterflies, and other pollinator species in Central Oregon:

  • Plant a diverse set of native plants that flower at different times annually
  • Buy raw honey from local producers, like Bend Bee Company sold at Ginger’s
  • Buy products from sustainable farms at local farmer’s markets
  • Avoid using pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides in your garden
  • Make a bee water fountain by leaving a bowl of water outside
  • Join the Bend Pollinator Pathway Facebook Group

We hope you’re inspired to consider the bees, butterflies, and other pollinators in Central Oregon as you evaluate plants for your setting this spring. Ready to get started? We have a limited supply of complimentary milkweed seed packets to help you connect your garden with the Bend Pollinator Pathway.

—Mollie 

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