The creation of this district is an outgrowth of work begun in 2018 by the Manitou Springs Pollinator Project. Their mission is “to enhance the natural environment of Manitou Springs to make it a more pollinator friendly city”. In September of 2019, Manitou Springs City Council Adopted a Resolution Establishing the Commitment to Have a Sustainable Environment and An Ambitious Response to Climate Change for the City of Manitou Springs. The first of seventeen actions states, “Protect pollinators and ecosystem health through reconfirming our commitment to organic land management and, beginning immediately, expand the use of pollinator-friendly plants and practices on City and private properties”. Manitou Springs School District 14 has also committed to supporting this project.
Over the winter of 2018-2019 it was discovered that at least eight beehives in Manitou Springs were abandoned by the bees, or the bees had died inside the hive. Aware that Pollinator populations have been declining nationwide, and that pollinator health and diversity play a critical role in the food supply for wildlife and people, project members researched creating a more robust program. This led to the discovery of a supported Pollinator District Program developed by the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Colorado. https://butterflies.org/copollinatornetwork/. Pollinator Project members are sponsoring Amy Yarger, Horticulture Director of the Butterfly Pavilion, to do a public presentation in Manitou Springs about Pollinator Communities during the month of June, 2020. Our goal is for Manitou Springs to become a Municipal Pollinator District.
What is a Pollinator District? According to the Colorado Pollinator Network, “A Pollinator District is a community that is absolutely committed to conserving and improving habitat for pollinators in all aspect of operations. A Pollinator District is a development, including businesses, schools, public facilities and parks, designed, constructed and maintained in such a way that pollinator habitat demonstrates a net gain over the footprint of development. A Pollinator District engages all of the people who live, work and play there in this vital work; community members are vital resources who become citizen scientists, beekeepers, gardeners and stewards of the land. A Pollinator District is a long-term commitment, because these habitats and the populations of pollinators that rely on them take years to establish and thrive”.
How is a Pollinator District Managed? Over the next decades, a program of measurement and evaluation will inform land managers about gains and challenges in pollinator habitat conservation at developed sites; work plans and recommendations will be adapted to address these challenges and to ensure that our work is successful in making our communities better for pollinators and for people. .
How will Butterfly Pavilion create the Pollinator District? Research – Through a comprehensive evaluation plan, Butterfly Pavilion will establish a current baseline status for pollinator diversity in Manitou Springs and document shifts in populations while evaluating the value of pollinators to natural systems.
Habitat restoration –Butterfly Pavilion, through its Urban Prairies Project, is mobilizing Restoration Master Volunteers and local open space departments to add more pollinator habitat to urban and suburban open spaces.
Habitat gardening - Pollinator-friendly landscaping can fit in any location, from schools to businesses to parks to homes to urban streetscapes. By creating opportunities in varied locales within the district for pollinator habitat gardens, this initiative will engage scores of people in the conservation of pollinators.
Beekeeping - Butterfly Pavilion currently teaches dozens of aspiring beekeepers how to keep bees through sustainable, scientifically vetted techniques in our Beekeeping Bootcamp series.
Public education and engagement – Our comprehensive education plan programs includes a multitude of tools and opportunities to reach diverse audiences, such as citizen science, workshops, classes community gardens, public events, outreach booths and more.
Sustainability – Healthy pollinator habitats start with responsible conservation of water and soil, as well as the preservation of vital native plant communities whenever possible. Butterfly Pavilion’s Pollinator District guidelines support best practices in the realms of green building and design.
What Is The Process of Becoming a Pollinator District?
A. Identify stakeholders in the community and include them in Pollinator District planning
B. Assess current pollinator habitat and practices, as well as existing pollinator diversity and abundance
C. Work with stakeholders to set pollinator conservation priorities for community
D. Create scopes of work for priority pollinator habitat projects
E. Evaluate progress and adapt scopes of work according to successes and lessons learned
F. Pursue certification as Pollinator District - Using established guidelines the Butterfly Pavilion science staff will evaluate progress every 5 years.
Back in 2017, news of the plight of pollinators was going mainstream. I was seeing articles in numerous sources about the alarming rate of decline in pollinators worldwide. As an avid gardener and lover of winged creatures, this was deeply troubling to me. I started questioning what could be done on the local level within our small mountain town of Manitou Springs, CO.
I discovered that efforts had begun 5 years before to persuade the City Government to adopt Organic Land Management as a policy. This policy would eliminate the use of chemicals harmful to pollinators in our city parks and open spaces.
This seemed like a good place to start. So a handful of residents formed the MSPP (Manitou Springs Pollinator Project now renamed the Manitou Pollinators) to bring this effort forward as a first step in the beginning of 2018. After a couple months it was passed unanimously by City Government.
Since then, numerous other projects have been undertaken. All these projects have the intention of making Manitou Springs a city that continues to take seriously the protection and promotion of pollinators.
Logo Credited to:
Watercolors by Beth Chorpenning
We can teach the next generation to love and respect our natural habitats, as well as understand that good, quality food can be grown in their own backyard.
Check back soon for additional information on our youth education and participation programs!