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    A Wildflower

    A Wildflower

    A Wildflower

    Declining Pollinators

    For those of you that are not aware, all sorts of pollinating insects are declining nationwide.  Monarch butterflies, one of the most common and easily recognizable species, have decline nearly 90% over the past twenty years.  Many other butterfly species, numerous bee and wasp species and other pollinators are also declining.  For some species (like the Monarch) it may be tied to reduction of specific host plants (which for Monarchs is milkweeds) that their caterpillars feed and grow upon before becoming adults.

    A wildflowerFor other species with more generic needs, it may simply just be an overall reduction of wildflowers in general.  For still other species, the problem may be a lack of dead trees and downed timber, or even a lack of bare ground – locations where certain species lay their eggs and raise their young.

    Conservationist’s Conundrum

    The poem below is to my wife, Michelle.  I started my “full time” career with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission the same year that we got married, both nearly 16 years ago now.  We have been through a lot, which I could not have gotten through without her.  I also would not be as good as I am at what I do without her patience and support.  Our busy and hectic day-to-day life occasionally makes it challenging to keep priorities straight, and even harder to remind those close to us how much then mean to us, and how much we love them.  I hope you (and Michelle) will enjoy the poem (which kind of covers a “conservationist’s conundrum”) and check out the other information following the poem about how YOU can get involved in helping our pollinators.

    Michelle, my love…
    I’d like to pick a wildflower,
    And put it in a vase,
    I’d put that on the counter,
    Just to see your smiling face.

    I’d like to pick a wildflower,
    And put it in your hand,
    To let you know you’re still my girl,
    And I am still your man.

    I’d like to pick a wildflower,
    And put it behind your ear,
    I’d watch it glow upon your face,
    My gosh, you haven’t aged a year.

    I’d like to pick a wildflower,
    While on a hike with you,
    To let you know my love my dear,
    Is still as strong and true.

    I’d like to pick a wildflower,
    Your heart, my aim, to please,
    But then it would no longer be there,
    For the butterflies and bees…

    I’d like to plant some wildflowers,
    In our yard, we have some space,
    Butterflies and flowers,
    Would surely brighten up the place.

    I’d like to plant some wildflowers,
    And put them on the land,
    For butterflies and hummingbirds,
    To keep up with their demands.

    I’d like to plant some wildflowers,
    With blooms throughout the year,
    They may attract some wasps and bees,
    Which we’d have no need to fear.

    I’d like to plant some wildflowers,
    That with every rain or dew,
    Would produce some different colors,
    And smells for them and you.

    I’d like to plant some wildflowers,
    For you, and them, to please,
    So they can always be there,
    For you, the butterflies and bees.

    How to Help

    A wildflowerDue to these noted declines, there are many active initiatives available, and have been some changes in federal and state conservation programs.  Within the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), for example, there is now a “Pollinator” option that will allow landowners to plant CRP that is focused on improving conditions for pollinators through higher diversity seedings that provide blooming flowers across the growing season.  There are many other options through conservation programs as well.

    National Pollinator Week is coming up June 20-26.  Please take some time to learn what you can do, even in your own back yard, to improve conditions for pollinators.  A related article, written for Nebraskaland Magazine by our own Greg Wagner, can be found at the link below (it has some great photographs and some tips for how you can help).

    http://magazine.outdoornebraska.gov/2016/06/flower-power/

    And if you would like to assist in identifying where certain butterflies occur and how many there are, you can participate in a citizen science project for our agency.  See the link below:

    http://outdoornebraska.gov/butterflysurvey/

    A wildflowerIf you are a landowner, there are many conservation programs that can help you help the pollinators, some of which can also help your farming operation.  Check out the Pheasants Forever website at http://nebraskapf.com/ or contact your nearest Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, USDA (NRCS or FSA) or NRD office for information, or track down your nearest Farmbill Wildlife Biologist (http://nebraskapf.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/FBB-Contacts-Map-12-10-15.pdf) .

    Our native pollinators are very important – so spread the “buzz words”, help us “grow” this initiative by helping us “plant the seeds” with your family, friends and neighbors.  If we all do just a little bit to help our pollinators, there will be wildflowers to pick for your sweety, and plenty to go around for the bees, hummingbirds, bats, butterflies, moths, ants and other pollinators that will appreciate your work.  Do the work with your family or friends, or with your sweetheart…either way, it will be time well spent.

     

    T.J.Walker
    Biologist, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission