An effort by Oneida County Land and Water Conservation is making habitat for a critical group within our ecosystem: pollinators. Insects that pollinate our crops and flowers have had sharp declines in populations.
Baerbel Ehrig is Pollinator Coordinator. She says the department has been securing grants to improve pollinator habitat. She says they've already had grants to improve roadside habitat in Three Lakes and a grant to work with farmers. Most recently, they've been planning to work adjacent to the courthouse to provide habitat for bumblebees, butterflies, including Monarchs who need milkweed to survive.
Part of the planning she says is a walkway among the flowers and pollinators...
"...the walkway that goes through the flowerbeds on the east side of the courthouse, we're essentially just planning the construction. Then we put the flowers in so they don't get damaged...."
Ehrig says agriculture has changed the ecosystem and many of the pollinators are finding less habitat and pesticides have killed them. She says even the seeds of plants have been modified to accept pesticides that harm pollinators along with less beneficial bugs.
She says countries in Europe has outlawed the use of chemicals that affect pollinators....
"...there have been studies coming out that in Europe there's been a decline of 80 percent of the insects, with the on-going number for North America is 50 percent decrease in insect activity. That clearly includes pollinators..."
The federal government has designated next week at National Pollinator Week to help draw attention to the declining populations of insects that are needed by humans.