For the United States Army Reserve Installation Management Directorate (ARIMD), pollinators are the bees' knees, and the directorate's recent efforts to protect these important creatures have generated a lot of "buzz" around the enterprise.
From September 28 to October 6, a team of volunteers from ARIMD observed National Public Lands Day and installed three pollinator gardens at Marshall Hall -- home of United States Army Forces Command and United States Army Reserve Command -- at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Hosted by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) each September, National Public Lands Day is the largest, single-day volunteer effort to beautify the environment, inspire resource stewardship and encourage the use of America's unique public lands for recreation and education.
Each year, NEEF offers a Department of Defense (DOD) legacy grant to Federal entities that want to accomplish their National Public Lands Day projects at military installations. NEEF provides preferential grant consideration to agencies that strive to build habitat for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, bats and hummingbirds.
Pollinator habitat conservation is a particular concern for NEEF -- and for our planet. According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, pollinators are directly responsible for the production of nearly 80 percent of our flowering plants and nearly 80 percent of our food crops. Yet, a number of factors such as habitat loss, chemical use and climate change are causing pollinator populations to decline rapidly and drastically, even by as much as 90 percent in some regions of the world. The Fish and Wildlife Service recently placed seven species of bees on the Endangered Species List. The continued loss of pollinators could significantly impact Earth's delicate biological diversity and severely limit our food choices.
ARIMD viewed National Public Lands Day and the NEEF DOD legacy grant as opportunities to enhance continuous pollinator conservation efforts at Fort Bragg and improve a series of neglected garden beds in a public area at Marshall Hall. For the first time, the directorate applied for a grant, and NEEF awarded $4,000 to the project.
With assistance from Marshall Hall's Grounds Maintenance Team, volunteers from ARIMD removed invasive hedges from the garden beds, amended the soil and placed nearly 200 drought tolerant, low maintenance plants that will attract pollinators to the site. Plant varieties in the garden include butterfly bush, lantana, hypericum, baptisia, phlox, sedum, solidago, achillea, delosperma, Gaillardia daisy, coneflower, coral honeysuckle and gaura.
The gardens will enhance the aesthetics of the Marshall Hall campus as well. Once established, they will provide a kaleidoscope of color in spring, summer and autumn.
In addition, the project supported the area's economy because the plants were purchased at a locally-owned nursery in the city of Fayetteville.
Ultimately, ARIMD hopes to develop the space into a place where Soldiers and Civilians at Marshall Hall can commune with nature. The directorate also hopes to pursue other National Public Lands Day projects at the Mission Support Command, Regional Support Commands and Army Reserve-funded Installations in the future.
Visit usar.army.mil or usarsustainability.com to learn more about Army Reserve Sustainability Programs. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/USARSustainability and follow us on Twitter @USARGoGreen.