Pheasants Forever, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Nebraska Environmental Trust hosted a local pollinator habitat tour last Thursday. Thirteen people attended the tour which consisted of brief presentations at the USDA Service Center and field site visits at several locations between Imperial and Champion.
Andrew Keep, NRCS District Conservationist, gave a brief USDA programs update.
Keep explained there is funding available for several programs in which NRCS can provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners and operators.
Linda Fegler, FSA County Executive Director for Chase and Dundy Counties, discussed the upcoming Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-up to begin Dec. 1 running through the end of February 2016.
In prior CRP sign-ups, the time frame was approximately 30 days. This longer time frame will have a different process for landowners to complete.
Heather Francis, Farm Bill Biologist, presented different photos of native forbs and grasses found in the area including common milkweed, upright coneflower and Sand Bluestem.
Francis discussed the importance of adding native forbs to wildlife habitat projects by enhancing them with the inclusion of pollinator habitat areas.
Facts provided to participants included:
Pollinators are defined as an animal that moves pollen and can affect pollination.
About 75 percent of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators and over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators.
Of those, about 1,000 are hummingbirds, bats and small mammals. The rest are insects such as beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies and moths. Pollinator habitat acres are decreasing at an alarming rate across Nebraska and the United States. With these acres in decline, numbers of honey bees and Monarch butterflies have also declined.
Why is that important to you?
One out of every three bites of food you eat every day required pollination to occur by animal or insect. Last week’s tour helped to showcase how pollinator plantings can be included on CRP acres, small acre areas and urban settings.
The tour concluded with site visits to the Chase County Schools Youth Pollinator Habitat planting located just west of Imperial and a pollinator planting on CRP acres located west of Champion. Plant identification was done at each site, with every participant learning a new grass or forb species before the end of the tour.
Supper was served at the Southwestern Nebraska Pheasants Forever Youth Memorial Park.
More information about USDA programs or pollinators is available at the local FSA office, NRCS office or from Farm Bill Biologist Francis. She can be contacted at the Imperial NRCS at 308-882-4263, ext. 3.