Awarded to the Kootenay Native Plant Society to enhance and restore the ecosystem process of pollination by facilitating the enhancement of meadow habitat to sustain the diversity of native pollinators, including at-risk bumble bees and butterflies and the native plants with which they co-evolved, in the Kootenay Lake area.

PROPONENT: Kootenay Native Plant Society (KNPS)

DESCRIPTION: Pollination is an essential ecological survival function. The relationship between pollinators and plants is necessary for the reproduction of plants as well as the survival of the pollinator. Declines in pollinators and pollination can have serious repercussions in both natural and agricultural systems. Pollinator declines have been implicated as possible drivers of declines in insect-eating birds, in animal-pollinated plants, and in herbivorous animals.

Meadow making, the creation and enhancement of native wildflower habitat through a coordinated planting of native wildflower seeds, can result in direct conservation benefits for pollinators, plants and people. Regardless of habitat size, the establishment of meadows that host a variety of flowering plants will increase biodiversity and boost pollinator-plant interactions on a local scale and can facilitate broader levels of connectivity. Meadow making near agricultural fields demonstrably increases crop yields and reduces reliance on non-native pollinators.

Pollinator meadows of native plants require locally adapted seeds of plants required by the diversity of wild pollinators throughout the season. Until this project, there were no local ecotypes of native wildflower seed available in the Kootenay Lake region. In 2019, the KNPS established a Kootenay Lake Seed Library and, after two years, had nearly 60 species pooled and available for planting by local residents. Meadows were planted for the first time in fall 2019 and augmented with additional seeds in fall 2020.

OBJECTIVE: The goal of this project is to enhance and restore the ecosystem process of pollination by facilitating the enhancement of meadow habitat to sustain the diversity of native pollinators, including at-risk bumble bees and butterflies, and the native plants with which they co-evolved, in the Kootenay Lake Area. This project aims to create a variety of meadow patches throughout the region, through the creation of stewardship agreements and assistance with species selection, site preparation and planting. The Citizen Science approach used in this program addresses the lack of seeds and provides valuable ecological data through training in local plant identification and seed collection, monitoring for meadow success, and the tracking of pollinator visitation. Seeds used in the project will be made available for individuals and organizations in future years, building a seed and knowledge sharing network. This project will increase understanding of the meadow making restoration process through the assessment of meadow preparation techniques and the effects of meadow creation.

COMMENTS FROM PROPONENT: Wildflowers for Pollinators connects people to a fundamental and intrinsic ecological process of pollination. We take it for granted, assuming that the plants and insects will carry on. The process, however, is threatened by continued human activities that are destroying and degrading the key players – the plants and the pollinators – and fracturing their interrelationships. Making a meadow gives our participants a hands-on and inspirational way to support this process and it is wonderful to hear the stories of their learning and joy with us. As one of our project partners commented, after adding some water to his meadow: “…[a] cloud of bees came out and it’s just… it added an extra dimension to me for the flowers overall, just being able to see the bumble bees kinda enjoying them too… It added a little bit of extra fun having the bees around like that.”

PHOTOS: Becky Beckwith

Visit the KNPS website

Watch this video for an excellent overview of the project including footage of seed collection and interviews with volunteer meadowmakers.

In this 2020 KCP webinar learn how the Kootenay Native Plant Society has been working toward plant and pollinator conservation, as well as ways to participate in reconnecting and recovering pollinator pathways in the Columbia Basin.