Guest Blog by Kelly Clark, Committee Chair, Bee Campus USA - Carson City, Nevada
Carson City, Nevada, became a Bee City USA affiliate in 2018 and has since worked to make pollinator conservation a community-wide endeavor. Pollinator conservation has become a key component of the city’s education and outreach, habitat enhancement, and policies and practices. Carson City’s Bee City USA committee has become a focal point for pollinator related activities in the community, bringing together a variety of groups already working to spread awareness, improve habitat, and reduce pesticide use and adding to their efforts. Continue reading to learn more about the great work taking place to make Carson City a better place for bees and other native pollinators. Download Carson City's renewal report at the end of this blog for a complete list of their 2019 activities.
Education & Outreach
Getting the word out about pollinator conservation is an essential component of the Carson City Bee City USA group’s work. An aware and engaged community is crucial for getting people to adopt changes in their own homes and yards to preserve and protect pollinators. In 2019, approximately 25 pollinator events were held, ranging from Earth Day activities to guided hikes, beekeeping classes to gardening workshops. Carson City’s Bee City committee is especially proud of the outreach they have done this year and look forward to getting even more involved with the community in 2020.
Earth Day: 2019 Earth Day activities were co-sponsored by the Great Basin Beekeepers of Nevada and the Carson City Historical Society, with the theme “Celebrating Pollinators” to teach residents and children about Carson City’s recent Bee City USA designation, as well as pollinator conservation practices. The Carson City Culture and Tourism Authority sponsored the creation of pollinator information cards and printed fliers that were distributed to fifth grade students in the Carson City School District. This celebration of pollinators featured guest speakers who gave presentations about Integrated Pest Management and chemical reduction strategies, planting for pollinators, and climate change impacts on pollinator conservation. It was a fun time and educational for the whole community!
Farm Days: Farm Days is an annual education event for pre-kindergarten to elementary-aged children. With a focus on animal husbandry and agriculture, this event is very important for groups like the Great Basin Beekeepers of Nevada (GBBN). Approximately 2,000 children participate in the event each year. With the help of GBBN, children learn the important role bees play in the pollination of plants. This is a great opportunity for children to learn about the differences between native bees and honey bees. Participants even got the opportunity to taste some delicious local honey.
Interpretive Hikes: Throughout 2019, Carson City sponsored several guided interpretive hikes for children and adults, covering a variety of pollinator topics. Sponsored hikes included: “Pollinator Tot Trek”, a scavenger hunt for young children where they got to spot a bee, butterfly, or flower in nature, and “Wildflower Walk”, where leaders highlighted and identified local plant species and discussed the importance of pollinators.
This was an exciting year for Carson City in terms of public engagement; we hope to continue this momentum into 2020! The committee has also purchased two additional Bee City USA signs and is working with the Nevada Division of Transportation (NDOT) to get permits to have them placed along the roadway entering and exiting Carson City.
Pollinator Health & Habitat
In 2019, Carson City seeded approximately 240 acres of disturbed land with a pollinator-friendly seed blend. This acreage primarily consisted of areas that had been burned by wildfire in previous years. In addition to seeding activities, Carson City worked to establish specific areas of new pollinator habitat – including a Pollinator Garden and the Carson City Chamber Leadership ‘Bee Hotel’ at the Foothill Garden. Carson City’s Bee City USA Committee would especially like to thank their partners including Carson City Parks, Recreation & Open Space Department, The Greenhouse Project, Carson-Tahoe Cancer Center, and the 2019 Carson City Chamber Leadership Group for their efforts in establishing this new pollinator habitat in Carson City. None of these events were specifically sponsored by the committee, but rather independent community engagement on pollinator conservation!
Chamber Leadership Bee Hotel: Following Carson City’s designation as a Bee City USA in 2018, the Carson City Chamber Leadership group wanted to complete a project dedicated to pollinator conservation. As a result, they designed and installed a Bee Hotel at the Foothill Garden Site, an area that already supported sustainable agriculture and food production in Carson City. Now, with the inclusion of the Bee Hotel, the Foothill Garden has become an amazing site for children and adults alike to learn more about the connection between food and pollinators.
Foothill Pollinator Garden: In conjunction with the Bee Hotel, Carson City staff worked with the Carson-Tahoe Cancer Center and The Greenhouse Project to grow native flowers and plant them in a garden adjacent to the new Bee Hotel to provide forage for the bees. This garden is also adjacent to the Serenity Trail, which is prescribed as a wellness trail by the Carson-Tahoe Cancer Center.
Restoration Activities: The Carson City Parks, Recreation & Open Space Department completes restoration on disturbed areas every year. These are areas where weeds have been eradicated, fires have taken place, or volunteers have worked to establish more native vegetation. Since becoming a Bee City USA, City staff have worked to incorporate pollinator-friendly plant species into all seed blends. The photo at the beginning of this blog shows flowers that started to come back after a 220-acre wildfire. Some of these flowers established naturally, while some were included in the seed blend that was used to restore the disturbed area. This area is located adjacent to the Carson River and is an important natural resource for pollinators.
Carson City is very excited about the pollinator enhancement activities that took place in 2019. Through future volunteer and education events the Carson City Bee City USA Committee hopes to create even more habitat in 2020.
Policies & Practices
While Carson City’s Integrated Pest Management Plan is still in progress, the city has continued to implement a variety of IPM principles in Parks and Open Spaces. Specifically, plants are removed by hand when appropriate. In 2019, species removed by hand included puncturevine, bull thistle, poison hemlock, and various aquatic invasive plants. Additionally, Carson City worked with the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) to conduct a biocontrol release of a naturally occurring rust fungus to target the noxious weed Canada thistle through non-chemical means. Carson City also worked with the Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF) to complete corridor clearing by hand along a trail that would have been previously treated with chemical herbicides. Carson City also completed solarization on noxious weeds occurring adjacent to organic farms and gardens -- including the Foothill Garden -- in order to avoid using herbicides in these sensitive food-production locations. These are all practices that have been implemented in the past and will continue to be implemented and expanded upon in order to reduce the dependence on chemical herbicides in the future.
Carson City’s Bee City USA Committee has been drafting an Integrated Pest Management plan throughout the year and is gathering input from all City Departments who engage in invasive plant management.
Header photo by: Nancy Lee Adamson
These are the opinions and events of interest to the Bee City USA coordinator and Xerces Society.