Friends of Gladstone Nature Park (FOGNAP) has received a $11,600 matching grant from Metro to purchase native plants and materials that will be aimed at encouraging a pollinator habitat in the park.
Currently infested with invasive species, the habitat is slated for construction on a hill on the north side of the park, about halfway between the two park entrances on Webster and Oatfield roads. With an elevation of 240 feet above sea level, the hill is the highest point in the park.
Gladstone Nature Park is receiving the funding through a 2019 Nature in Neighborhoods restoration and community stewardship grant approved at a Metro meeting on June 13. The local grant was one of 15 successful grants out of 33 submissions.
FOGNAP volunteers say that pollinators are in serious trouble on our planet due to habitat loss, urban development, disease and overuse of pesticides. Threats to pollinators are endangering three-quarters of the world's food supply that relies on beneficial insects, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a department within the United Nations.
Metro's grant aims to help FOGNAP attract butterflies, pollinators, birds and visitors to the park and to the Gladstone area. The project is intended to be a demonstration site and will include interpretive signage to help visitors identify plants and species.
"We are really excited to get started on this wonderful new project," said FOGNAP President Nancy Eichsteadt. "We hope this will be a welcome addition to our community and something volunteers and students can enjoy for years to come."
About a dozen teachers from all three schools in Gladstone are planning activities for students. Already growing caterpillars, the students could help the project by propagating plants such as milkweed for Monarchs, identifying local species and collecting data for reports to Metro. Beginning in July, FOGNAP will clear the hill of invasive and prepare it for the student projects that are expected to begin in the fall when school is back in session.
In addition to local schools, other partners in the grant include the city of Gladstone, Bosky Dell Natives and Exceed Enterprises, a group of adults with special needs who are currently helping to build a bird garden near the west entrance of the Nature Park.
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