National Pollinator Month

Native pollinators and native plants go together like butter and toast. May they always be around to fill our hearts and feed our bellies.


It seems that there is a national day, week or month to commemorate and/or draw attention to just about anything you can think of. To prove this, I tried an internet search on three topics I thought whimsical and random: National Hotdog Day, National French-fried Shrimp Day and National Paper Airplane Day. Each search came back with a specific date and a long explanation as to why this particular day is celebrated. June holds a number of days set aside to commemorate environmental issues such as National Prairie Day, National Trails Day, National Go Fishing Day and National Weed your Garden Day (no joke). June is also African-American Music Appreciation, ALS Awareness, Caribbean-American Heritage, LGBT Pride, National Safety and National Smile Month according to Wikipedia, which also recognizes that this is an incomplete and dynamic list.

Despite all the lists I could find of arcane and sometimes ridiculous dates that someone, somewhere has declared a national event, nowhere could I find National Pollinators Month. However, this is a real thing, and in my opinion, an important one, so I hope to correct that oversight.

I first heard that June is National Pollinator Month through an email from the National Wildlife Federation. I searched the topic online and found that it started as National Pollinators Week in 2007. It was later expanded to a month so people with slow internet-brain connections like myself could find time to contemplate it before it was over, although there is still a National Pollinators Week, June 20-26.

Pollinators are so ubiquitous that they are often taken for granted. However, their conservation is critical to our own survival. According to the National Wildlife Federation, every third bite of food we eat comes to us courtesy of a pollinator. Some plants have a wide suite of pollinators, others have a very choreographed dance between plant and pollinator, with each evolving specific traits to accommodate the other. In some cases, the loss of a specific pollinator could spell the demise of the plant that depends upon it.

The threats that pollinators face include shrinking habitat, pesticides, imported plant species that reduce native habitat, imported diseases and climate change. Climate change is affecting the bloom time of some native plants creating a pollination season out of sync with the arrival of their pollinators. The resulting spiral of fewer pollinated plants, and fewer and fewer pollinators is easy to envision.

Just how serious is the threat to pollinators? According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, we have lost 50 percent of North American bumblebees since 1974. Most everyone is familiar with the beautiful monarch butterfly and understands that this butterfly is in trouble. But the numbers are stunning. Since the 1980’s, 88 percent of the wintering eastern population has disappeared. The western population, in the same timeframe, has nearly gone extinct, dropping from 4.5 million to under 2,000 in 2021. Many other species are facing similar dire losses.

We don’t have to wait for some government program to help pollinators. We can all help by planting as many native flowering plants as possible in our yards. Native plants and advice are available through the University of Idaho’s Extension Service (check out Bulletin 682 at:

https://www.extension.uidaho.edu/publishing/html/

BUL862-Landscaping-with-Native-Plants.aspx?title=Gardens%20and%20Landscapes&category1=

Gardening&category2=Flowers,%20Shrubs,

%20and%20Ornamentals

for many recommendations and for a list of plant suppliers. COPY THIS LINK AND REMOVE THE SPACES I HAD TO ADD TO MAKE IT FIT THIS PAGE). There are many other sources on-line as well. We can also be cautious in how and when we apply insecticides. Most pollinators are insects and broad spectrum applications often harm more beneficial species than harmful ones.

National Pollinators Week and Month are not a gag. Hopefully, during the month of June we will think seriously about the impact these little creatures have on our lives and try to make theirs a little easier.

As a note, I have been nurturing a pollinator garden for the past several years. This year, I have finally seen results and the pollinators, especially native bees, are loving it. 


Help Idaho Wildlife

When we traveled across the state in October 2017, most of the vehicles we saw using the wildlife management areas did not have wildlife plates. Buying wildlife plates is a great way for non-hunters and hunters alike to support wildlife-based recreation like birding.

C'mon folks, let's help Idaho's wildlife by proudly buying and displaying a wildlife license plate on each of our vehicles! 

See below for information on Idaho plates. Most states have wildlife plates so if you live outside Idaho, check with your state's wildlife department or vehicle licensing division for availability of state wildlife plates where you live. 

Wildlife License Plates

Idaho Wildlife license plates provide essential funding that benefits the great diversity of native plants and wildlife that are not hunted, fished or trapped—over 10,000 species or 98% of Idaho’s species diversity. Game species that share the same habitats (such as elk, deer, antelope, sage-grouse, salmon, trout) also benefit from these specialty plates.

No state tax dollars are provided for wildlife diversity, conservation education and recreation programs. Neither are any revenues from the sale of hunting or fishing licenses spent on nongame species. Instead, these species depend on direct donations, federal grants, fundraising initiatives—and the Idaho Wildlife license plates.

Both my vehicles have Bluebird Plates. I prefer the bluebird because the nongame program gets 70 percent of the money from bluebird plates, but only 60 percent of the money from elk and trout plates - 10 percent of the money from elk plates supports wildlife disease monitoring and testing programs (to benefit the livestock industry) and 10 percent from cutthroat plates supports non-motorized boat access.

Incidentally, in 2014, the Idaho Legislature denied the Department of Fish and Game the ability to add new plates or even to change the name of the elk and cutthroat plates (very specific) to wildlife and fish plates, a move that would have allowed for changing images occasionally and generating more revenue. It would seem that they believe that we Idahoans don't want a well funded wildlife program. Go figure. 


"WOW. What a phenomenal piece you wrote. You are amazing." Jennifer Jackson

That is embarrassing, but actually a fairly typical response to my nature essays. Since The Best of Nature is created from the very best of 16 years of these nature essays published weekly in the Idaho Falls Post Register (online readership 70,000), it is a fine read. It covers a wide variety of topics including humorous glimpses of nature, philosophy, natural history, and conservation. Readers praise the style, breadth of subject matter and my ability to communicate complex and emotional topics in a relaxed and understandable manner.

Everyone can find something to love in this book. From teenagers to octogenarians, from the coffee shop to the school room, these nature essays are widely read and enjoyed.

Some of the essays here are my personal favorites, others seemed to strike a chord with readers. Most have an important message or lesson that will resonate with you. They are written with a goal to simultaneously entertain and educate about the wonderful workings of nature. Some will make you laugh out loud and others will bring a tear to the eye and warm your heart.

Readers Write:

"You hit a home run with your article on, Big Questions in Nature. It should be required reading for everyone who has lost touch with nature...great job!" Joe Chapman

"We enjoyed your column, Bloom Where Planted. Some of the best writing yet. The Post Register is fortunate to have your weekly columns." Lou Griffin.

To read more and to order a copy, click here or get the Kindle version 

here

Copies are also available at:

Post Register

Island Park Builders Supply (upstairs)

Barnes and Noble in Idaho Falls

Harriman State Park, Island Park

Museum of Idaho

Valley Books, Jackson Wyoming

Avocet Corner Bookstore, Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, Brigham City, Utah

Craters of the Moon National Monument Bookstore, Arco, Idaho