Talent, Oregon – 2017 Annual Report

Enhancing Pollinator Health & Habitat

In 2014, Talent, Oregon, became the second Bee city USA affiliate in the nation!

We focused on several areas for our pollinators.  In the spring of the year, we began our certification process for individual, private pollinator gardens.  This included an application followed by a visit from a member of BCU and one of our local Talent Garden Club members.  After reviewing the worksheet and comparing it to the actual garden, an approval was given, and the owner purchased a sign for display in the garden.  At the end of the year, we had nine gardens approved.

Our biggest challenge was our Talent Pollinator Garden that had been sprayed with gyphosate before the plants were put in the previous year.  It again had the dog vomit fungus in the spring time.  We were very blessed to have Bradley Wilson, a native plant specialist and gardener to help us.  Almost singlehandedly, he saved the garden.  The old mulch was removed.  The soil was amended, and weed control barrier was put down.  The entire garden space was amended with OMRI certified organic compost and aged bark mulch.  The original plan (designed by Bradley several years ago) was followed, and a water source was added.  Our Talent Urban Renewal Agency voted the necessary funds to make the garden a special feature in its location at the city’s roundabout.

We had also been challenged with developing another pollinator garden.  This is the Joseph Park Butterfly Garden.  The area is a grass rectangle in a residential neighborhood.  A survey of the residents living there indicated that a few were not in favor of the plan due to concerns that dogs may eat the milkweed and become ill. (Monarch Watch says that animals generally avoid milkweed because it tastes bad: https://www.facebook.com/notes/monarch-watch/will-my-dogs-eat-my-milkweed-what-about-the-kids/10152668805308796/) A fence may become too costly according to our insurance company yet it could mean life or death to the monarch butterfly.  Most recently, the Parks and Recreation Commission heard and discussed our survey report.  We are still waiting for the final decision.

Our last garden is fast becoming our showcase.  It happens to be a garden right in front of City Hall that had never been sprayed with any pesticides.  Our Talent Garden Club is taking the lead in developing this garden and using it as a challenge for the citizens.  The sparsely vegetated existing garden will be restored by adding about 60 flowering plants and shrubs into the mix – all of which will be pollinator friendly, and many native plants will be added.  There will be three insect watering stations.  Three mason bee and leafcutter bee houses will be added.  We will also establish a bug house that will be named Buggingham Palace.  Two bird houses will be added.  This garden will be used as an educational tool for the people of Talent and especially for our elementary and middle school children who will get guided tours and a thorough pollinator education.   In addition, the public at large will have a guided tour each month.

Policies & Practices

Bee Swarm Policy

On May 6th, 2015, the City of Talent adopted its Procedure on Bee Swarms/Extractions.  The policy is available on the city’s website under Bee City USA.

Integrated Pest Management Policy

It was early in 2015 that Jim Thompson of the Bee City USA Talent Subcommittee started working on the Integrated Pest Management Policy for the city.  In March of 2017 both the Together for Talent Committee and the Talent Parks and Recreation Commission gave their official support to the policy.  In that same month, Dr. Ray Seidler, a PhD biologist, gave a positive presentation on the IPM at a City Council meeting.  And at that same meeting, Talent Public Works offered a presentation not in favor of the IPM by a senior faculty research assistant from Oregon State University.    Then in October 2017, Jim’s article on the policy appeared on the city page of the Talent News & Review, our local monthly newspaper.  We also had some changes in the makeup of our City Council getting some new members.  Stephanie Dolan and Emily Berlant bring fresh support to the effort and are Council liaisons on our Together for Talent Committee.

We will continue to encourage the City of Talent to adopt not only a strong IPM policy, but to connect with and educate many vital officials to convert to and support new strategies for pest management.

Education & Outreach

Our first educational activity of the year took place on March 4, 2017.  Kristina Lefever, chair of Bee City USA Ashland, Master Gardener, and president of the board of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, presented at the Talent Public Library for the Talent Garden Club and Bee City USA Talent.  Her topic was Growing Pollinator Gardens.  This helped kick off our campaign to certify home pollinator gardens.  There were approximately 40 people present.

Also, in March, we went to our Talent Middle School where we gave the students feedback and then selected the top three designs of pollinator gardens created by them.  We were to choose the first, second, and third top designs, but we could not.  None of the designs were complete so we chose all three to the dismay of the students.   The designs are to be put into the school’s courtyards that were being converted into pollinator gardens.  We created a special worksheet to use for judging.  The work done so far in the two gardens are pruning, weeding, and pulling out of inappropriate plantings.  The benches have been refurbished and painted.  Then in May, we gave Heather Armstrong, the Talent Middle School teacher, the National Geographic book, Birds, Bees and Butterflies:  Bring Nature into your Yard and Garden.

On March 27th, Dolly Warden, chairperson of BCU Talent, traveled to Salem, Oregon, the state’s capitol, to help pass a bill that would save Oregon’s bees by regulating neonicotinoid insecticides.

On April 19th, Dolly Warden, chairperson of BCU Talent, again traveled to Salem to participate in a rally with Beyond Toxics for water and wildlife as our fish and native pollinators are at risk.

National Pollinator Week in June brought our next education/outreach activity.  On June 7, Mayor Darby Ayers-Flood read her proclamation of National Pollinator Week at the City Council meeting.  On June 24, we had a booth (canopy) on the lawn between City Hall and the Public Library, but the temperature got to over 100 degrees.  We decided to take shelter in the Public Library meeting room.  Unfortunately, few people ventured out on that hot, hot day.  Only 10 people found us there.

On October 7, we celebrated our annual Harvest Festival and Parade.  We had ten people including children participating in the parade for Bee City USA Talent by walking, carrying the banner, pulling the Giant Bee, or handing out seeds.  We gave away 200 packets of pollinator plant seeds to those attending the parade. This was our sixth year of giving away seeds.  Our focus at our table was mothers or mothers-to-be.  We gave them literature on affects of pesticides on children.  We also had craft activities for children – making beeswax candles, bee or butterfly masks, coloring sheets labeling bee parts.  We gave out information on pollinator gardens and explained how gardeners could contact us to have an inspection of their yard.

On October 17, Dolly Warden, chairperson of BCU Talent, spoke before the City Council of Jacksonville, Oregon, answering questions from Council members who were considering voting their city a Bee City USA.

On November 29, Jim Thompson, member of BCU Talent, and Dolly Warden, chairperson of BCU Talent, went to the Medford Public Library to attend a meeting regarding a no spray exclusion zone for farm working housing.  They also attended and Jim spoke at the Oregon OSHA meeting on December 5th.

Local Website & Contact Information

City of Talent Website (Click on Bee City USA Talent link)

CONTACTS

Dolly Warden, Chair, Bee City USA
Talent, PO Box 111, Talent, OR
dolly.warden17@gmail.com

Stephanie Dolan, City of Talent Councilor 3                                        councilor3@cityoftalent.org

Emily Berlant, City of Talent Councilor 2              councilor2@cityoftalent.org