Spotlight on: Nez Perce National Historical Park
Coauthored by: Jeanne Dodds, ESC Creative Engagement Director and Heidi Tamm, Nez Perce National Historical Park
What is a Pollinator Protector habitat? It is a space, small or large, dedicated to plantings of native plants supporting pollinators. Thoughtfully selected and locally sourced plants provide food sources for pollinators who in turn provide the essential service of pollination. Pollinator Protectors gardens provide habitat in space where plants that pollinators require may be absent, such as urban areas with limited green space, areas covered by lawns, or locations where appropriate plants once thrived but have been extirpated. Pollinator Protectors gardens renew and support habitat for native species.
One of the Pollinator Protectors sites that the Endangered Species Coalition works with is the Nez Perce National Historical Park in Spaulding, Idaho. The area immediately surrounding the visitor center at Nez Perce National Historical Park was historically all manicured turf grass. To reduce the amount of watering and maintenance required in these areas, Natural Resource staff converted one of the grassy areas into a pollinator garden. Staff researched a variety of native species most suitable to plant, i.e. those that are drought tolerant and self-sufficient. Over twenty-five species were chosen and with the help of volunteers on National Public Lands Day in 2016 and 2017, plants were out planted into the garden. Since then, the plants have grown quite nicely and attracted a variety of pollinator species. The garden has also attracted the attention of many visitors. Thus, an effort has been placed on using the pollinator garden as a tool to promote awareness of the importance of planting species beneficial to pollinators. Another focus is to maintain the pollinator garden long-term so it continues providing habitat for pollinators in our area.
Nez Perce National Historical Park is just one of the fifteen sites nationally that ESC partnered with for our fall 2018 planting cycle. To create these relationships, ESC provides small grants to planting sites; in turn these locations consult with state native plant societies for plant and nursery recommendations. ESC is growing this effort, developing educational materials and building new partnerships. We envision this work expanding and deepening in 2019 and the years ahead. We invite you to contact us if you are interested in participating in the Pollinator Protectors project as a planting site, funder or other partner.