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Hydropower Flows Here
What do carrots, chocolate and coffee have in common?
6/24/2020 12:00 AM
This restored area of the Methow River and its bank in northern Washington feature native plantings that help support pollinators.
A beetle pollinates native milkweed in the Columbia River Gorge.
When you think of pollinators, the image of that cheerful honey bee on a flower probably comes to mind. But pollinators also include native bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, flies, and other animals, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Pollinators visit flowers for food (nectar and pollen), shelter, nesting materials, and even to find their mates. While visiting flowers, pollinators move pollen from the stamen (male part) of a flower to the pistil (female part), which fertilizes the plant so it produces seeds. Some pollinators intentionally collect pollen, such as bees. Others, like butterflies and birds, inadvertently move pollen while they are collecting nectar from the flowers.
A bumblebee enjoys native camas in an employee’s backyard.
How does BPA help pollinators?
BPA includes pollinator friendly practices in some of its policies, programs and projects – and not just in the Fish and Wildlife Program. Through BPA's participation in the Electric Power Research Institute's Power-in-Pollinators Initiative, we continue to learn about pollinators, including ideas and practices to improve pollinator habitat in transmission rights-of-way and facilities.
BPA is currently developing pollinator-friendly best management practices for transmission facilities that cover maintenance, construction and vegetation management. You can read about how BPA is helping to protect Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly habitat in the Santiam-Toledo transmission line right-of-way, in the book “Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies,”
by The Xerces Society.
BPA has also updated its landscaping policy
to prioritize planting native plants to save water consumption, in addition to supporting pollinators.
And of course, BPA funds projects that enhance pollinator habitat through its Fish and Wildlife Program. This week, to celebrate Pollinator Week, BPA is releasing its
Pollinator friendly business practices implemented by BPA’s fish and wildlife program
, to help project sponsors enhance and create pollinator habitat as part of their fish and wildlife restoration projects.
Best management practices for pollinators can be found in projects implemented by a BPA contractor, the
Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation
, which helps recover ESA-listed salmon in northern Washington.
Methow Salmon views pollinators as
a key part of the interconnected web that support both salmon and communities.
June 22 through 28
BPA is partnering with the Electric Power Research Institute to celebrate pollinators. Kick off the festivities by reading all about pollinators and taking some action in your own backyard, balcony or even on a window ledge. EPRI's sponsored events are
“Many of the best management practices for supporting healthy riparian areas for fish and wildlife are also good practices for pollinators,” says Brian Fisher, a project manager for Methow Salmon. “Using native plants is an important part of the restoration process.”
Many pollinators are in serious decline in the U.S., as well as worldwide. Contributing factors include misuse of pesticides and herbicides, parasites, loss of habitat, air pollution and climate change, which affects the behavior and lifecycle of pollinators.
Why care about pollinators?
The USFWS reports that these hard-working critters help pollinate more than 75% of our flowering plants and nearly 75% of our crops. USFWS says without them, wildlife would not have nutritious berries and seeds and we would miss many fruits, vegetables and nuts, like blueberries, squash and almonds – not to mention chocolate and coffee.
All of this delicious bounty depends on pollinators.
Pollinators have a critical role in maintaining many of the native plants that make up our ecosystems because most of the world’s native plants need to be pollinated. Loss of diversity in plant communities threatens ecosystem functions, such as carbon cycling, flood and erosion control, and the visual beauty of flowering plants, as well as recreational uses of wildland areas. Plants also provide food and habitat for wildlife, including large and small mammals, amphibians, birds and insects. The insects that use plants for food and habitat also provide food for fish and birds – all important parts of the ecosystem.
Further, as mentioned above, pollinators are crucially important to agriculture. These pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food Americans eat, increasing the nation’s crop values each year by more than $15 billion. Pollinators, primarily native species, are required for the production of many of our foods, including most fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. Even our root crops, such as carrots and beets, would not grow without pollinators since we must plant their seeds. The diversity and abundance of our food supplies would shrink drastically if pollinator populations decline and technology cannot successfully reproduce pollination in all its forms. Some parts of the world, including parts of China and Japan, have lost all their pollinators, and all pollination is performed by hand by many workers using paintbrushes.
Tune in later this week to read about the scary murder hornet (giant Asian hornet) and other threats to pollinators, and to find out what you can do to help out in your own yard.
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