Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy National Pollinator Week!

It is Happy National Pollinator Week again and you know what that means, right? Free ice cream and lip balm for everybody! Okay, those freebies are only if you are in DC and attend the National Pollinator Week Congressional Briefing.

Members of Congress, their staff, and the public are invited to participate in a briefing by pollinator scientists and experts on Thursday, June 23 at 4:00 PM at the Longworth House Office Building Room 1302. As a special pollinator treat, pollinator supportive companies Häagen-Dazs and Burt’s Bees will provide ice cream and lip balm for attendees. Both Burt’s Bees and Häagen-Dazs are committed to the health of honey bees that are instrumental in their products and in the well being of plants, people, and animals. The briefing is being held in conjunction with the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus (CP2C), which was created in the House by co-chairs Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Timothy V. Johnson (R-IL) to increase understanding of the importance of pollinators in land management, food, and the environment.

New Legislation to be Introduced: A widely supported effort to decrease the costs of roadside management by reduced mowing and increased native plantings, the Highways Bettering the Economy and Environment Act (Highways BEE Act), will be introduced on Thursday, June 23 as part of Pollinator Week. Rep. Hastings and Rep. Timothy V. Johnson will be lead sponsors of the bipartisan legislation. “Our bill’s approach is to help States reduce roadside maintenance costs while providing better habitat for pollinators—similar to farmers being good conservationists while they produce our food,” noted Rep. Johnson. “Neighboring farmers will benefit from improved ag pollination services.” Rep. Hastings added, “Many conservation approaches are viewed as adding costs – this measure is designed to help cash-strapped states reduce roadside maintenance costs, while providing habitat for pollinators and other benefits. Everyone wins; we save money, and the safety of our nation’s highways is enhanced.”

The Highways BEE Act seeks no new monies and the limited federal role is to assist the states. It has received widespread endorsement from the business and environmental communities as well as from House Members on a bipartisan basis, scientists and diverse organizations including National Audubon, National Farmer’s Union, The Isaac Walton League, The American Farmland Trust, Waste Management, The National Gardening Association, among others. Sounds to me like a win-win for everyone and not only does it not cost any money, it should save a great deal in the long run.

Another Washington DC Event for National Pollinator Week: On Friday, June 24 a Pollinator Festival will be held from 10 am to 2 pm on the National Mall outside of the U.S. Department of Agriculture next to the People’s Garden and the USDA Farmer’s Market. Booths from nearly 15 federal agencies and nonprofits will feature pollinator information and activities including those just for kids. You can learn more at www.pollinator.org.
 
UPDATE: For even more local Pollinator Week events, go to http://pollinator.org/npw_events.htm and click on the interactive map.

Bee image courtesy of the USDA.

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