Pollinator Week begins, Clark Public Utilities hosting native garden tours


While the importance of the European honeybee as crucial to pollinating flowers and crops is commonly touted in North America, native pollinators play just as important of a role yet are frequently overlooked.

Pollinator Week, which began on Monday, June 17, aims to change that by bringing awareness to all pollinators, not just honeybees. Pollinator Week offers several opportunities for people to get involved, such as planting native foliage to attract other pollinators and by attending garden tours like the ones Clark Public Utilities (CPU) will be hosting on Saturday, June 22.

CPU is inviting the public for self-led or guided garden tours that will take place at the utility’s Electric Center in downtown Vancouver, 1200 Fort Vancouver Way; the Operations Center in Orchards, 8600 NE 117th Ave.; and the Van Dyke Substation in Lake Shore, Northwest 99th Street, west of Northwest 21st Avenue.

The Electric Center will host presentations by local pollinator experts at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on how to incorporate pollinator-friendly plants in home landscapes, as well as pollinator-themed children’s activities and informational tables about the CPU’s commitment to responsible and sustainable environmental stewardship.

“There are literally thousands of pollinators,” said Michael O’Loughlin, Clark Public Utilities environmental stewardship manager and the utility’s Pollinator Project leader. “So, we have in the state of Washington, there’s four native hummingbirds and then a whole host of butterflies and moths that are great pollinators, hundreds definitely in the state. And then as far as bees in the state, there’s probably over 600 different species.”

In the garden, growing native plants is essential for the thousands of local pollinators that have poplated the area and “in essence, evolved with those native plants,” O’Laughlin added.

People can also install non-native plants adapted for the climate that can supply nectar and pollen, he said.

O’Laughlin believes the native pollinator world has been very understudied, historically, but that is starting to change.

“More and more people are realizing the importance of our native pollinators even for our crops, but also just for the various ecoregions that we have,” O’Laughlin said. “Most of the plants are dependent on them in some way for pollination, and so we need to get a little better understanding of where they live.”

That is why Pollinator Week is celebrated.

“Pollinator Week 2024 is a celebration of the vital role that pollinators play in our ecosystems, economies and agriculture,” according to Pollinator Week’s website. “Under the inspiring theme ‘Vision 2040: Thriving ecosystems, economies, and agriculture,’ this year’s event urges us to envision a future where pollinators not only survive but thrive. These essential creatures, including bees, butterflies, moths, bats, beetles and hummingbirds, are the unsung heroes behind the food we enjoy and the beauty that surrounds us.”

To learn more about Pollinator Week, visit pollinator.org/pollinator-week.
O’Laughlin encourages people planning to attend CPU’s garden tours to carve out time to visit the various locations. He also encourages them to look at the designs of pollinator gardens and list of plants to consider by visiting CPU’s website, clarkpublicutilities.com/com munity-environment/environ mental-stewardship-programs/pollinator-project/.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also has resources available for people to learn more about pollinators and ways to help them survive and thrive at wdfw.wa.gov/get-involved/educational-resources/pollinators.