BANGOR, Maine — Maine is home to 278 different species of native bees, and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is encouraging landowners to help conserve these important species!
“The rusty patched bumble bee, once common, has virtually disappeared,” NRCS Partner Biologist for the Xerces Society Eric Venturini said. “Last seen in Maine in 2009, it is now Federally Endangered. Similarly, the yellow-banded bumble bee population in Maine crashed from 2010 to 2013. It has increased since then, but it is still rare.”
Venturini added that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is considering listing the monarch butterfly (another once-ubiquitous species) and the yellow banded bumble bee for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Now is the time to act to conserve these important species! NRCS State Conservationist Juan Hernandez has set aside $80,000 of NRCS financial assistance funds to support pollinator conservation in 2020.
Applications are prioritized based on: location (e.g., Waldo County contains the last known location of the rusty patched bumble bee and so receives funding priority); benefit to agriculture (growers who depend on pollinators for crop production receive prioritization); and the anticipated benefit of the conservation action.
The following NRCS practices can be used to support pollinators under this statewide initiative:
Core Practices (at least one of the following must be included to qualify for the Pollinator Initiative)
- Early Successional Habitat (647): Creating early successional habitat along crop field edges or within forestland
- Conservation Cover (327): Planting perennial wildflower meadows for beneficial insects
- Field Borders (386): Planting flower rich field edges for beneficial insects
- Hedgerow Plantings (422): Establishing rows of flowering shrubs near crops for beneficial insect forage and habitat
- Tree Shrub Establishment (612): Establishing flowering trees and shrubs to support pollinator populations
- Integrated Pest Management (595): Apply for our newly developed IPM (and pollinator) for wild blueberries
- Conservation Crop Rotation (328): Adjust crop rotations to improve bloom landscape bloom phenology
Supporting Practices (can be funded through initiative, if a core practice is also in contract)
- Cover Cropping (340): Plant flowering cover crops of high value to beneficial insects
- Brush Management (314): Use to prepare ground for hedgerows or to maintain early successional habitat
- Windbreak/Shelterbelt (380): Use to buffer pollinator habitat from pesticide drift
- Mulching (484): Use to support the establishment of hedgerows or tree and shrub plantings
- Structures for Wildlife (649): To support mason, leaf-cutter, and orchard bees in spring blooming crops
- Tree/Shrub Site Preparation (490): Use to prepare sites for core practice Tree and Shrub Establishment
Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however to apply for funding consideration in FY 2020, visit your local NRCS Field Office and submit an application by Aug. 16, 2019! (https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/
For more information contact Farm Bill Pollinator Conservationist and NRCS Partner Biologist for the Xerces Society Eric Venturini at email@example.com or (207) 478-7612
–USDA NRCS Maine
For more articles out of New England, click here.