Regional pollinator project expected to be finished by end of June

  • A monarch butterfly perches on an aptly named butterfly bush on a September day. Staff Photo/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/27/2020 3:24:11 PM
Modified: 11/27/2020 3:24:03 PM

Eight Franklin County towns, assisted by the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), are making progress on a regional pollinator project that is expected to be finished by the end of June, ensuring pollinators have a safe place to live, eat, nest and thrive.

Called Pollinator Corridor Towns, the towns that are participating so far are Bernardston, Conway, Greenfield, Heath, Montague, Orange, Shelburne and Wendell. FRCOG’s Land Use and Natural Resources Planning Program Manager Kimberly Noake MacPhee said the regional agency received $93,400 in state and federal funding for its efforts, and will apply for more money for the next round of towns that sign up.

“There are two major components of the project: developing a regional pollinators habitat, and a toolkit,” Noake MacPhee said.

The project came about, she explained, because so much is tied to the health and diversity of native pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, moths and birds.

“Pollinators are very important for our crops, including blueberries, apples, peaches and honey,” she said. “They’re very healthy for our food system and local economy. They’re also important for the health and climate resilience of our landscapes.”

Noake MacPhee said FRCOG and the towns are about 30 percent along in the project, which should be completed by the end of June.

Part of the project will include creating a toolkit that can be used by anyone, anywhere, who wants to create an environment for pollinators. FRCOG will also conduct mapping and data analysis and identify where pollinator corridors might be located.

“We’ll take a look at each community’s land-use regulations,” Noake MacPhee said. “We’ll look at new development, redevelopment and more, and what presents opportunities. We’ll talk with developers and everyone involved with a project. The cost isn’t that different to use pollinator-friendly plants.”

Ground-mounted solar arrays will also be considered, and those involved in those projects will have an opportunity to learn what kinds of plantings might make sense.

Noake MacPhee said some towns already had pollinator projects in the works, so it was easy to incorporate them into the regional agency’s efforts.

“In Greenfield, for instance, there are already rain garden projects and others going on,” she said. “As new projects happen in the towns involved, we can incorporate things like that. We also want people to start thinking about home gardens and as they do, think about the complete life cycle of pollinators. We don’t want people, businesses, whomever, to think just about one plant for nectar, but for everything in a pollinator’s life, including overwintering and all life-cycle needs.”

Greening Greenfield is also involved.

“This is so exciting,” Nancy Hazard, of Greening Greenfield, said of the pollinator project. “Plants and all street trees are so important for pollinators. Pollinator corridors are important. Even electrical lines are important.”

Hazard noted the project will also consider when the best time of year is for public works departments to mow along roadsides so as not to disturb pollinators.

“We’re all eager to learn what we can do to support pollinators,” she said. “And though we’re working with eight towns initially, we need to think beyond all borders.”

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or by email at afritz@recorder.com.


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