Whether you are a lover of snow or not, have you ever thought about the importance of a good snowfall?

Just ask the local native pollinators and see what the answer might be. Surely we can see the results each spring and summer. The results are evident in the form of healthy native flowers and plants that feed our native pollinators, such as insects, birds, mammals, and other creatures that specifically transfer pollen from one plant to another all season long. Among many other benefits, a good blanket of snow allows pollinators and the plants they count on to adequately prepare for the next cycle of life to take over after a season of hibernation, migration, or whatever process a specific organism must endure to survive winters in our area. Thanks to the insulation through the harshest month and needed moisture as the snow gradually melts, both plants and animals in our area rely on this natural cycle. Will the lack of snow this season make a difference? You can be the judge as you enjoy the spring and summer months in your garden. 

What’s all the buzz with pollinators? Pollinating our plants is a vital process which allows us, quite simply, to obtain much of the food that we eat whether it is grown in our own backyards or purchased from the local farm stand or supermarket. Some foods are aided by pollination and some, like almonds, would not grow at all if it were not for pollinators. Essentially, pollinators allow plants to flower and fruit. Some plants are pollinated by the wind, such as corn, while others need various species to pollinate for them.

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Bees, insects, butterflies, bats, and even humans can help the pollination process. The best way to help out is to learn how to best steward your own garden, your own property, or even your own deck with various native pollinating plants that bloom throughout the growing season. That, along with a source of water and a moratorium on herbicides and pesticides will qualify you for the North Salem Pollinator Pathway. 

There are many things you can do this coming spring to help reverse the decline in our vital insect and pollinator population. The first and most fun might be to attend our next program on March 8 (see Balanced Rock on page 2 for details). Equally important, take one or all of the following steps from the American Association for the Advancement of Science: 
1. Avoid mowing your garden/lawn frequently; let nature grow and feed insects.
2. Plant native plants; many insects need only these to survive.
3. Avoid pesticides; go organic, at least for your own backyard.
4. Leave old trees, stumps and dead leaves alone; they are home to countless species.
5. Build an insect hotel with small horizontal holes that can become their nests.
6. Reduce your carbon footprint; this affects insects as much as other organisms.
7. Support and volunteer in conservation organizations.
8. Do not import or release living animals or plants into the wild that could harm native species.
9. Be more aware of tiny creatures; always look on the small side of life.
And finally, educate yourself, your family and friends about the issues and the solutions and take this next growing season as a challenge to see what steps work for you in your own backyard. 

To learn more about joining this vital effort to protect pollinators and all insects, join North Salem Open Land and partners on Sunday, March 8 at 3 p.m., at the Ruth Keeler Memorial Library. We will present a detailed program about pollinators and their roles and hopefully get you fired up about joining many of your neighbors who are already on the Pollinator Pathway right here in North Salem. 

For information and resources about pollinators and native plants, visit the Pollinator Pathway website at pollinator-pathway.org/northsalem.