HELENA - The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers a pollinator habitat program in order to promote pollinator growth and protect our food sources.
“What we're doing is creating food sources for our native pollinating animals or insects. You know, I mentioned bats earlier. People don't always think about bats as being pollinators, but they are – butterflies, insects. A lot of our food, about 1/3 of all the foods that we eat as humans, rely on pollination to be produced. And so, it's pretty important that we help sustain those populations of insects,” says Chris Evans, District Administrator for the Lewis & Clark Conservation District.
With about 35% of the world’s food crops relying on animal pollinators to reproduce, it’s no wonder that a federal program by NRCS exists. Heavy losses of bees throughout the nation and Montana’s high production of honey are even more reasons to support a pollination station.
The program works alongside private landowners to suggest and provide certain native and nonnative plants that will integrate well with surrounding areas. The areas in which pollinator-friendly plants are set can vary immensely. For example, some ranchers utilize normally unused spaces in corners of their fields for pollination stations.
“Since, you know, the fields are square and pivots are, you know, produce a round circle. They have these open corners that they, you know, typically do nothing with, so they'll plant pollinators in the corners,” says Jasons Saari, Soil Conservationist for NRCS.
Additionally, local conservation districts offer free pollinator seeds for those who would like to help pollinators on their own time.
“Reach out to your local conservation district and see if they have a program going on. We have pollinator seed that we've distributed to, well, last year, I think in 2021, it was 80 people in Lewis and Clark County got free seed,” says Evans.
Whether you choose to work alongside the government to support pollinators or DIY it, don’t forget to make sure you’re planting helpful, non-invasive species of plants.