Enhancing Pollinator Health & Habitat
Bee City USA Ashland is fortunate to be a subcommittee of Ashland Parks and Recreation. The BCU subcommittee currently is comprised of four community members-Kristina Lefever as Chair, Shari Shattuck as Vice Chair, Nancy Appling, and Albert Pepe-plus Joel Heller, an Ashland Parks and Recreation Commissioner. Our City Liason, Libby VanWyhe manages the North Mountain Park Nature Center, and we gratefully acknowledge her support and participation.
At our January 2017 goal setting meeting our subcommittee decided to concentrate on two broad goals, with objectives within each goal.
To meet our first goal, Create pollinator friendly landscapes, we chose to collaborate with Parks and Rec to create a pollinator garden at The Grove, the office of Parks and Rec on East Main St., a main thoroughfare through town. Over the summer we made several revisions to our preferred plant list, created a planting plan and final plant list, and met with Parks staff. We also invited students at the John Muir School to create a decorative ‘Coming Soon’ sign for the garden – we were thrilled with the beautiful painting created by Mariella Ferris to mark the spot for the new garden. Then in late summer, with the help of a grant from the Ashland Parks Foundation, we ordered plants from a few local nurseries, gathered a few special volunteers, and on a cold and wet morning in November, we planted!
Also, during the summer we began a dialogue with an Ashland neighborhood located in close proximity to a native and pollinator riparian restoration planting that Bee City USA Ashland had worked on with Ashland Parks and Rec in 2016. The idea was to invite the HOA (Home Owner Association) to become involved with the area and perhaps have them officially adopt it through Ashland Park’s Adopt-a-Park program. Kristina and Karen Potts (a previous BCUA member) took a tour of the area with one of the HOA members, and Kristina gave a Growing Pollinator Gardens presentation to 16 of the HOA members. We hope to have this project move forward during 2018 and use it as a pilot for working with other HOAs.
Policies & Practices
In March, we published our annual swarm letter in the City Source, a small monthly newsletter for City residents.
At the June 6 City Council Business Meeting, Mayor John Stromberg issued the City’s Pollinator Proclamation, reminding everyone of the importance of our pollinators and renewing the City’s status as a Bee City USA.
Ashland Parks and Rec has a Native Plant Guide which is used to guide all of their plantings, and the Nature Center publishes several lists of pollinator friendly plants that are growing in the demonstration gardens at North Mountain Park.
Ashland Parks and Recreation has had an Integrated Pest Management policy in place since 2010. Bee City USA Ashland is continuing to work with Parks and Rec staff to encourage Parks staff to eliminate the minimal amount of glyphosate that continues to be used in several of the medians, on the ball field warning tracks, and on the golf course.
Ashland’s Bee City USA sign is displayed proudly at a visible spot on one of the main thoroughfares into the City. We plan to post two more signs next year at other entry ways.
Education & Outreach
Our second goal for 2017 was to Educate the public about pollinators and their conservation.
We offered a public pollinator garden tour of the gardens that had been approved under our Approved Pollinator Garden Program. (The program was developed and announced in 2016.) We invited all 22 gardeners to a Pollinator Gardener Social to discuss plans for our first pollinator garden tour. Of the 23 gardens designated in 2016, 17 gardeners wanted to participate. July is when Ashland’s gardens look their best, so rather than scheduling the tour during National Pollinator Week, the gardeners chose Sunday, July 9, as the date.
We asked the participating gardeners to submit a description and picture of their garden for the tour booklet. Thank you, Phyllis Stiles, for writing the welcome inside the front cover!
We advertised the tour in the Parks and Rec Recreational Guide, on Facebook, in a press release, and in letters in the paper. Individuals purchased a ticket and received a tour booklet, which included a map, so they could select the gardens they wanted to visit on this self-guided tour. We were thrilled to have 120 people purchase tickets!
During 2017, we approved ten more gardens for our Approved Pollinator Garden Program, for a total of 33 at the end of 2017. Of these 33 gardens, eight belong to Ashland Garden Club members and seven are located at local businesses, including North Mountain Park.
We tabled at the Ashland Growers Market four times during the summer to engage shoppers in pollinator conversations. We had fun talking about the importance of pollinators, especially our native bees, and gave away seeds for Mexican Sunflower (tithonia) donated by a local seed grower, as well as plant lists and other information. And of course, we encouraged people to sign up for our First Annual Pollinator Garden Tour. In addition to educating local residents about pollinators and Bee City USA Ashland, tabling at the Market provides a good opportunity to connect with tourists and share the Bee City USA program information with them.
During Pollinator Week, Kristina gave a her second annual presentation of Growing Pollinator Gardens at the North Mountain Park Nature Center. The presentation explains the role of municipal governments in pollinator conservation, describes the various pollinating insects and pollinator plant characteristics, and provides information about how to create a pollinator garden.
Kristina has a quarterly column in the local paper – the Ashland Daily Tidings – called The Pollinator Connection, writing about the importance of pollinators, pollinator landscapes, habitat and overwintering sites, and connectivity, as well as happenings in the pollinator community.
Local Website & Contact Information
Our website is a page on the Ashland Parks and Recreation section of the City of Ashland’s website, and is updated by APRC staff with input from the Bee City USA Ashland subcommittee.
Manager, North Mountain Park Nature Center
Ashland Parks and Recreation
620 N. Mountain Ave, Ashland, OR 97520