City Council approves move to enhance biodiversity, support local pollinators

COURTESY PHOTO: UNSPLASH/JENNA LEE - There already are 11 Bee Cities in Oregon, including West Linn and Wilsonville. In a time when more and more people are becoming aware of the plight of the ever-needed pollinators, Sandy is exploring gaining designation as a Bee City.

Along with the support of Councilor Carl Exner, Associate Planner Shelley Denison presented the benefits and costs of becoming a Bee City at the April 5 meeting of the City Council.

Because of a combination of factors, pollinators are increasingly at risk and populations are decreasing. Some of these factors include habitat loss, diseases and pesticide use.

Denison shared statistics that "25% fewer bee species (were) observed between 2006 and 2015 than before 1990 and more than 20,000 fewer monarch butterflies (were) counted on (the) California coast between 2020 and 2021."

"When we think about pollinators, we usually think about honeybees, but there are all kinds of different pollinator species," Denison said. "There are butterflies, moths, hummingbirds; Oregon alone is home to over 500 native bee species."

Becoming a Bee City, Exner added, would align with the council's 2021-23 goal of enhancing biodiversity in Sandy.

There already are 11 Bee Cities in Oregon, including two in Clackamas County: West Linn and Wilsonville. For Sandy to become No.12, the city would have to complete the following steps:

n form a committee focused on creating a safe and healthy place for pollinators

n enhance pollinator habitats

n adopt an integrated pest management plan

n form related policies

n conduct public outreach

n pass a council resolution declaring Sandy a Bee City

n pay an annual fee of $200

The fee pays for cities to have access to support and resources about conservation, Denison said.

Besides becoming a Bee City USA affiliate, the Denison recommended the city also promote a healthy environment for pollinators by codifying the importance of maintaining native plant species, implementing integrated pest management practices, creating policy to support those practices, make the city a better place for pollinators, and also find and provide resources and education for the public.

"Pollinators serve a lot of really important purposes," Denison said. "They promote healthy food systems. The statistic that people like to use is that 'one out of every three bites of food that we eat are because of pollinators.' They support environmental quality and actually economic growth. This is a really good example of the principal of thinking globally and acting locally. There are things as a city that we can do to support pollinator species."

Council approved the idea of seeking Bee City designation, and Exner said he hopes to see the mayor make an official proclamation around May 20, which is World Bee Day.

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