St. Charles Park District Signs Promote Pollinator Protection

St. Charles Park District Signs Promote Pollinator Protection

For anyone wondering why butterflies don’t seem to be as abundant as they once were, the signs aren’t hard to find. Weather extremes, harmful agricultural practices, and loss of native habitat have all contributed to the decline of butterflies and other plant pollinators.

But for visitors to the St. Charles Park District who want to learn how to support and protect these vital pollinators, the signs will be easy to spot.  Posted along trail heads and in natural areas, eye-catching “We Support Pollinators” signs will showcase park district habitats that attract monarch butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other plant pollinators that are essential to a healthy environment.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 10.44.43 AMMany 18” x 24” metal signs can be found in numerous natural areas and demonstrate the important interrelationships between native plants and pollinating species.  Additional information on each sign indicates that the surrounding area provides various sources of food and shelter that are needed to sustain pollinators.

“Being stewards of the environment is a key component of the park district’s mission,” said Laura Rudow, Superintendent of Parks and Planning.  “By creating awareness of various habitats throughout the district, we hope to encourage visitors to think about the important role these pollinators play in making our world a more beautiful and sustainable place.”

The “We Support Pollinators” signs will be found in areas where the park district has created and maintained natural gardens, such as in Mt. St. Mary Park, the Native Plant Demonstration Garden at Pottawatomie Park, Hickory Knolls Discovery Center and Delnor Woods.

“In general, a healthy environment is a diverse environment,” said Denis Kania, Manager of Natural Areas.  “Part of the natural composition includes pollinators, whether they are bees, butterflies, wasps or hummingbirds.  They promote a more complex biodiversity.”

Protecting the habitat such pollinators need in order to thrive is vital not only to these birds, butterflies and insects, it is also critical to the quality of life humans enjoy as well.  The plants these various species help pollinate bring fruits, vegetables, nuts, fibers, oils and raw materials, and help stabilize soil erosion and increase carbon sequestration.

Providing protected habitats is important because some pollinators migrate and need to be able to locate the host plants they depend upon along the way, according to Kania. The Monarch butterfly is one such species which requires plants in the milkweed family for egg laying and larvae development as multiple generations are needed to complete the migration.

“Because of our agricultural practices, large stretches of our continent have become wastelands too vast for these pollinators to cross,” said Kania.  “Even a few backyards hosting them can make a big difference to their success.”

Visitors to areas sporting the “We Support Pollinators” signs will enthralled by the sheer variety of plant material showcased and awed by the abundance of wildlife these habitats support.  The Native Plant Demonstration Garden along the banks of the Fox River behind the Pottawatomie Community Center boasts woodland, wetland and savanna conditions in which blooming plants, trees, shrubs, vines and ground covers thrive.  Pollinator habitats such as open prairies exist at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center. Visitors to the Sculpture Walk in Mt. St. Mary Park can enjoy both the beauty of native plants and the artistic efforts of talented sculptors.

The “We Support Pollinators” signage installation is the latest in the St. Charles Park District’s commitment to providing continuing education about the importance of pollinators.  Exhibits such as the “Pollin8: In Praise of Illinois Pollinators” observable honey bee colony at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center allow visitors to get an up-close-and-personal look at the hidden operations of one of Mother Nature’s most industrious and ingenious cultures.

For more information about the “We Support Pollinators” signage and waystation areas, contact Denis Kania at 630-513-4367.

SOURCE: St. Charles Park District news release

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