Pollinator Pathway Effort ‘POPs’ In April

Published: February 09, 2019 at 07:45 am


Some residents have their sights on spring.

Protect Our Pollinators (POP) members Holly Kocet and Mary Wilson have the date of Sunday, April 7 in mind as their group hopes to lead an effort for a Pollinator Pathway in Newtown — a pesticide-free corridor of public and private properties that will provide native plant habitat and nutrition for bees, butterflies, and other important animal pollinators.

A public event to launch the Newtown Pollinator Pathway is planned for Sunday, April 7, from 2 to 4 pm, at C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street.

“Towns and property owners participate by creating healthy yards and public spaces for pollinators, pets, and their families,” stated a recent POP e-mail to The Newtown Bee.

Towns like Wilton, Ridgefield, and Norwalk have already been successful in this endeavor. Several other Fairfield County towns are in process of establishing Pathways.

“Things are so fragmented,” Ms Wilson said “Connecting properties helps them thrive.”

Doing something that is good for the bees is “good for you, kids, pets; that’s the big picture,” she added.

“Newtown joins towns who have already established successful pollinator pathways,” a POP press release states. As POP works to create a pathway for Newtown, the release says, “All Newtown landowners are encouraged to participate.” The release urges “creating pesticide-free wildlife habitat gardens at home or anywhere in our community. Even the smallest yard can help provide for pollinators.”

Plant native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, the release states, which provides pollinators with nectar and pollen “that best meets their nutritional needs.”

POP members are currently working to identify ideal areas to establish Newtown pathways, “as other towns have done,” Ms Wilson said. “Areas adjacent to the [Upper and Lower Paugussett] State Forest are important” as well as areas near town borders, she said.

They have a few ideas of how they might reach residents. “We may contact,” larger property owners in town, Ms Kocet said.

“We may ask if someone would host a neighborhood gathering,” where the POP team would provide information on how homeowners can help. Other towns found this approach helped the effort, Ms Wilson said.

POP members have already reached out to Newtown Forest Association, Newtown Environmental Action Club, gardening clubs, and the Conservation Commission for support, they said.

Residents may not be aware of “how detrimental chemicals are” in lawn care and may also not be aware of what property maintenance or landscapers are using, Ms Kocet said. “Perfect lawns and a neat yard… we need to leave something for the bees.”

“Lawns are like deserts to pollinators. There has to be a shift in thinking,” Ms Wilson said.

Every resident “can be part of it and do something positive for the environment,” Ms Kocet said.

Communicating with Drew Toher, the community resource and policy director of Beyond Pesticides, Washington DC, the POP team received his e-mail response that he found propollinators.org, the website of POP, to be “very informative.” Highlighted is a phrase where Mr Toher wrote: “your efforts to create a pollinator pathway are ecologically sound and incredibly important.” He hopes the concept becomes a bigger effort throughout the country.

Kick-Off Event Details

Speakers on April 7 will include Mary Ellen LeMay, Emily May, Lisa Turoczi, and Louise Washer.

Ms LeMay is a facilitator for Hudson to Housatonic Regional Conservation Partnership (H2H) She is an outreach coordinator for Aspetuck Land Trust and is chairman of the Trumbull Conservation Commission. She is a state-certified Master Wildlife Conservationist and a member of Connecticut Native Plants for Pollinators and Wildlife Working group.

Ms May a pollinator conservation specialist with the Pesticide Program at the Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation that serves areas in the Northeast. Her work with Xerces since 2015 has focused on supporting pollinators through habitat creation and mitigating pesticide risk to bees and other insects.

Ms Turoczi is co-owner of Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery in Woodbury, founded in 2004. She works to create landscape designs for a healthier, eco-friendly environment.

Her work includes New England Cottontail Habitat for the Natural Resource Conservation Service, an educational shoreline management plan with First Light Power Company, an outdoor trail for White Memorial Conservation Center, and a riparian buffer restoration along the Housatonic River.

Norwalk River Watershed Association President Louise Washer heads the all-volunteer organization protecting water quality and fish and wildlife habitat in seven watershed towns of Norwalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding, Weston, New Canaan, and Lewisboro, N.Y. She helped create the Pollinator Pathway, which connects more than a dozen towns in Connecticut and New York.

Her work includes serving on the steering committee for H2H.


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