The Partners for Fish and Wildlife at Cal U plant pollinator-friendly gardens around the region.
Partners for Fish and Wildlife, a conservation collaborative based at Cal U, has been busy planting pollinator gardens in southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
According to Jose Taracido, supervisor for Partners for Fish and Wildlife’s Farmland Habitat Program, the organization had more than 15 pollinator gardens to plant this spring.
The gardens replace natural habitats that are affected as land is developed or cleared.
Changes in habitat have contributed to a nearly 90% decline in the monarch butterfly population since 1990, Taracido said. Each fall, the monarchs leave their summer breeding grounds in the northeastern United States and Canada to reach their winter home in Mexico.
Adequate food supplies along the way are essential.
“It takes 30 stems of milkweed — the only plant on which the monarch caterpillars feed — to get one monarch butterfly to Mexico for the winter, so we have to plant as many of these as we can,” Taracido said.
“That fact is a real indicator that we have a long way to go, and we are putting in habitat that will benefit these insects, native bees, songbirds, and native game birds,” Taracido said. “We’ll plant 25 to 35 species of native wildflowers that will either produce nectar or a nesting area, such as milkweed for the monarch butterfly."
The Cal U-based group has produced pollinator gardens or fields in Washington and Greene counties, as well as at Ohiopyle State Park, along the Great Allegheny Passage, and at the Saint Joseph’s Monastery in Wheeling, W.Va.
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife give thousands of seed packets away each year to landowners and will help any municipality, business, school or even home garden owners plant.
“We are working around the pandemic, trying to get things done while keeping our distance.”
For more information or assistance on starting a pollinator garden, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Based at Cal U, Partners for Fish and Wildlife is a cooperative effort among many agencies throughout the state. It provides internships and applied learning opportunities for Cal U students.
The program works to restore habitat for wildlife on agricultural and other lands by constructing stream bank fencing, stream crossings, wetlands, grasslands and border-edge cuts.
Partners for Fish and Wildlife works with landowners to improve water quality and wildlife habitat, restore degraded wetlands and stream vegetation, and restore native grassland and wildflower habitat.
In turn, practices benefit landowners by improving livestock health, water quality and forage.