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- by Bob Brush

If you haven’t yet, you will soon. A recent survey by the DEC and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry shows that bees, butterflies, moths and other “pollinators” that populate our woodlands and gardens are disappearing at a catastrophic rate all across New York State.

As a result of climate change, the invasion of nonnative species, and the loss of productive habitats, at least 38 percent of our native pollinators - the insects who make our gardens bloom - are at risk of elimination from the state’s ecosystem. In a worst-case scenario, up to 60 percent may be in danger of extinction.

These numbers are discouraging, but we - you - are not powerless to effect change. There are ways to help mitigate these losses - simply by the way we manage our gardens and lawns!

In Columbia County local groups are forming to share information on how individual homeowners can implement small changes that, taken together, can achieve powerful results. To that end, beginning in January the Taghkanic Climate Smart Communities task force will offer an ongoing series of films and lectures on this subject, with an eye to sharing information and opening a dialogue among local homeowners. Topics will include such things as protecting your plants from deer, rabbits, groundhogs and other animals; how to start a perennial flower garden; and programs on native and invasive insects and plants. The first of these presentations Managing Your Land Sustainably: An Introduction to the Homegrown National Park will take place at the Taghkanic Firehouse, Rt. 82, on Saturday, January 14th from 10am - noon and will be available on Zoom by clicking here at the beginning of the meeting. Refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to

Bad news for our pollinators is bad news for us. Our lives depend – literally – on a healthy and diverse insect population. It’s heartening to realize there are actions even a single person can take to provide a safe and nurturing place for our county’s beloved butterflies, bees, and other essential pollinators. It seems the time has come to begin.

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