Pollinator Friendly Towns Initiative

Pollinator Friendly Towns Initiative:  Maraleen’s 11 minute presentation to the Town Board of Olive on Jan. 14, 2014 was filmed  and can be viewed from the home page or on the new website:  www.pollinatorfriendlytowns.org. 

Dr. Lincoln Brower, Professor Emeritus Sweet Briar College, and one of the world’s leading monarch scientists, enthusiastically supports this grassroots initiative and has signed on to protect pollinators. Scott Black, Executive Director of Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Chair IUCN Butterfly Specialist Group, Roy Zartarian, President of the Connecticut Butterfly Associations and Kay Milam, producer/director of the film, Butterfly Trees.  Won’t you join them and sign the pledge to protect pollinators now.  They need you.  Thank you.

Olive became a Pollinator Friendly Town on February 11, 2014, the first in the state and nation. Shandaken became the second on April 7th, 2014. The Initiative is now pending with other towns boards.  Either you as an individual or your organization or school or community garden can sign the pledge even before it is brought in front of your town Board.  Stating name, town, county, and state/country, just email mmjbutterfly@gmail.com

The Pledge:

We the people of the town of {your town here} pledge to protect our pollinators as follows:

- We pledge not to use herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides

- We pledge to plant milkweed, and/or not cut milkweed, since it is the only plant on which monarch butterflies can lay their eggs and a plant that supports many other species, but not in fields that will be mowed for hay.

- We pledge to plant some native flowers, shrubs and/or trees.

- We pledge not to plant GMO crops


Where Have All The Pollinators Gone?…and What We Can Do About It

There are many reasons for the decline of monarchs and bees, and songbirds, and the multitude of other fauna and flora that I will briefly outline here: (following that are resources for further reading)

–  widespread use of pesticides and toxins on the U.S.’s 33 million acres of lawns is literally killing all living creatures and seeping into our water systems. In the U.S. every year 80 million pounds of pesticides are used on lawns, which translates to more pesticides per acre than used by Big Ag, which is to say a lot.  Lawns are helping to make 85% of all species extinct besides being a threat to human health since pesticides contain neuro- disruptors.  Pesticides are now found in 93% of children aged 3 to 13 years old and 96% of all fish have pesticide residue.

–  GMO crops call for the widespread use of pesticides

– loss of habitats:  over 2 millions acres of wildlife habitat is lost in the U.S. every year.  What does this mean?  New housing developments cut down trees, create lawns and use non-native plantings that do not support local species.  Of course, the same is true for malls and roadways. Conscientious development can work with nature rather than obliterate all life around it, and that includes golf courses.

–  mowing of roadways just as the monarchs are laying their eggs on milkweed is another issue that we all must address in our towns.

–  in every town where there are utility lines or old railroad tracks where there is a possibility of easily creating pollinator habitat with native plants that do not need maintenance.

There are many resources for learning more about urgency of protecting our pollinators, but here are a few recommendations.  Learn more about this issue and own it:

January 30, 2014, N.Y. Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/30/us/monarch-butterflies-falter-under-extreme-weather.html?emc=eta1

March 24, 2013, N.Y.Times, Sunday Review, Pity Earth’s Creatures, Edward Hoagland

Dec 23, 2013:  Washington Post: Why are the monarch butterflies disappearing? – Washington Post www.washingtonpost.com/…/why-are-the-mona

August 22, 2013, USA Today: Decrease in monarch butterfly population raises concern – www.usatoday.com/story/weather/…/monarch…/2687621/

October 4, 2013Boston Globe http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/10/04/monarch-butterfly-disappearance-new-canary-coal-mine/hg820NjcEoJ4mulbIdIbHJ/story.html

November 22, 2013: N.Y. Times ·  ·  The Year the Monarch Didn’t Appear – NYTimes.com www.nytimes.com/…/the-year-the-monarch-didn…‎(attached)

September 15, 2013  The Columbus DispatchMonarchs disappearing at an alarming rate | The Columbus Dispatch www.dispatch.com/…/1-monarchs-disappeari…‎ 

February 28, 2013: The Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/wild-insects-are-needed-to-pollinate-food-crops-2013-2

July 19, 2012: Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/07/19/crops-that-would-disappear-without-bees/

February 28, 2013: Smithsonian Magazine:  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/could-disappearing-wild-insects-trigger-a-global-crop-crisis-738/

July 22, 2013:  Bees Are Disappearing. You Can Help Them Return – Natural … http://blog.seattlepi.com/naturalmedicine/2013/07/22/bees-are-disappearing-you-can-help-the…

The Agricultural Defense Coalition has an excellent website and a vast resource list for further information: http://www.agriculturedefensecoalition.org/content/honey-bees-other-pollinators

March 27, 2013, Scientific American http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-herbicide-may-doom-monarch-butterfly-migration/

March 15, 2013, Tallahassee Environmental News Examiner , http://www.examiner.com/article/disappearing pollinators could trigger global crop crisis




U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service Reportswww.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators

North American Pollinator Protection Campaignwww.nappc.org.

I highly recommend the book Bringing Nature Home:  How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Douglas Tallamy. It is a great resource chock full of important information.

I sincerely hope that Olive and Woodstock are the first towns to pass this resolution and that we challenge other towns to do the same.  I believe it is good for the health of the land and all living creatures.  I believe it will be good for the reputation of our towns and add to their luster as special destinations.

No one is asking for money, just that we all pledge to do our part.  The only thing I ask from the towns is to promote this concept and action.  Neighbor talk to neighbor about taking action and signing the pledge.  Towns challenge other towns to do the same.

We can save our planet one garden at a time.

* There was an article in The Woodstock Times on January 9th, 2014, by Violet Snow, Cows vs. Butterflies.  The article states that milkweed seeds were spread on the Comeau property in a field mowed by a farmer to feed his cattle.  The farmer claims that milkweed will poison his cattle.

In doing much research into this topic, this is my conclusion:

To poison cows, sheep, or horses would have to be under stress from drought, brought into a pen which mostly grew whorled milkweed, more poisonous than our local common milkweed, and then eat lots of it.  **

* To be totally on the safe side and to be respectful of and live in harmony with dairy farmers, and those who raise sheep, and have horses, do not plant milkweed adjacent to areas or fields that will be used for hay.  There are many, many other locations where we could spread milkweed.

** sources:

– Dr. Lincoln Brower, Professor Emeritus Sweet Briar College                                             – Cornell Recommends for Field Crops, Michigan State University Field Crops Scouting Manual andOntario Ministry of Agriculture fact sheets: “Poisoning of Livestock by Plants,” “Common Weeds Poisonous to Grazing Livestock, Part A and Part B,”,   also the same information is available from U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

And then I found this article in the Christian Science Monitor

Milkweed May be Key to Prosperity for Western Beef Industry:

http://www.csmonitor.com/1983/0922/092228.html/%28page%29/3             jan. 27, 2014

For the Western beef industry, milkweed may be a key to future prosperity. It’s a dry-land plant that could provide nutritious cattle feed when ground water for irrigating the usual feed grains or alfalfa runs out.

The showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosam) can also supply natural rubber, sugar , pectin, and other valuable chemicals. It is only one of perhaps hundreds of wild plants that might profitably be domesticated, according to a study recently published by the congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA).

There have been a number of such studies in recent years calling attention to the wild wealth which traditional farming has overlooked. Now the OTA has laid out the possibilities for Congress with a view to possible congressional support for research to identify and develop useful new crops.

As the OTA report notes, ”Of the earth’s estimated 500,000 to 750,000 species of higher plants, no more than 10 percent have been examined even cursorily for their chemical makeup.” In fact, only about 300 species (100 in the United States) have been domesticated. Yet, OTA observes, there are probably many other potentially valuable crop plants waiting to be discovered.

The trouble is that many of them won’t be waiting much longer. Human population pressure and its accompanying ”development” are wiping out plant species on a wholesale basis. This is especially true in the tropical forests, which hold most of the plant species, where vast jungle areas are being cleared.

Experts attending a conference on the ”Dynamics of Extinction” held in August at Northern Arizona University described the trend as alarming. For example, Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University told the conference that ”Earth’s biota (both plants and animals) now appears to be entering an era of extinctions that may rival or surpass in scale that which occurred at the end of the Cretaceous.” That is when the dinosaurs died out.

Recognition of this trend gives a tone of urgency to the OTA report. Yet, the report notes, there are undoubtedly many wild plants that would help solve resource problems now facing many nations. For the United States, there is the question of how to shift from irrigation farming to dry farming as ground-water resources are depleted in semiarid regions. It should be possible to match dry-land plants, such as milkweed, to the farmers’ needs and develop a new agriculture suitable for this area.

Two such plants – jojoba, which produces a substitute for whale oil, and guayule, which yields rubber – have already attracted considerable attention. Cultivation of these, and to a lesser extent of milkweed, is being developed in the US on a very limited scale. But this experience has already emphasized a need for extensive research and development to bring a potential crop to the point where farmers can grow it easily and where a profitable market can be found for its products. The OTA report emphasizes that new crop plants and their products won’t be integrated into the US farm economy automatically just because , theoretically, they look promising.

OTA does not make policy recommendations to Congress, but it does lay out possible courses of action. Thus, it points out the benefits of commissioning detailed studies to identify specific new crop opportunities and define the research needed to domesticate the plants and develop markets for their products. With this information in hand, Congress could decide whether and how to support this research. It could turn out to be one of the most important agricultural development programs the United States has ever undertaken. Desert sands make fertilizer

Nitrogen, chemically ”fixed” in a compound such as ammonia, is an essential plant fertilizer. In nature, some bacteria fix nitrogen in the soil and in the roots of legumes. Lightning also makes such fertilizer in the air. But who would have thought that sun-baked desert sands could also do the job?

University of California chemist Gerhard Schrauzer estimates that nonbiological processes promoted by desert sands fix some 10 million tons of nitrogen annually.

Schrauzer and his colleagues at the university’s San Diego campus are studying the action of semiconductor materials such as titanium dioxide (rutile) , which exist naturally in many desert sands. These materials are like those used for solar cells. They find that, under the influence of sunshine, these materials can indeed fix nitrogen from the air.

The process has several stages. First, water molecules are split into hydrogen and oxygen. Then the nitrogen is fixed as ammonia using this hydrogen. There seems to be enough water adsorbed on the sand grains to facilitate this process even though the sand is dry to the touch. Arctic ‘Eden’

Although far removed from the tropical location of the mythical Garden of Eden, the Arctic may well have been the cradle of many plant and animal species.

According to standard evolutionary notions, most species originated in tropical lands and migrated northward. A research team recently reported in Science, however, that some of these species existed in the Canadian Arctic about 20 million years earlier than had been thought. *********************

And then there are still many still in the dark ages of recommending pesticides instead of integrated pest management procedures : http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ws/ws_37_toxicplants08.pdf

  1. syriaca toxic to cattle in hay – they recommend using glyphosate, a pesticide like roundup


One Response to Pollinator Friendly Towns Initiative

  1. Moira Joyce says:

    I am very interested in doing whatever is needed to preserve the natural balance of our ego system.

Comments are closed.