The Town of Portland intends to protect pollinators in our community, and we strive to protect our native plant and tree species in Town. We collaborate with our vendors and suppliers as much as possible to use plants free of chemicals that may be harmful to pollinators and Portland uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques on Town owned land. We encourage the addition of clover to grass lawns and/or the reduction of the need to mow grass to every 2-3 weeks. We are working to identify areas where lawns are not used for walking, playing, sitting or other human recreation, and replace those lawns where ever possible with native trees, shrubs, or perennials offering resources for pollinators.
The Town of Portland, its Public Works and Grounds strive to maintain, create and improve its Pollinator Pathways. We partner with such groups as the Schools, Garden Clubs, Air Line Trail Committee, Brownstone Quorum and other volunteer and civic groups homeowners and businesses to improve the Pollinator Pathways throughout the Town of Portland. The Town of Portland has established Pollinator Pathways in 3 locations on town owned land: The Air Line Trailhead on Middle Haddam Rd; The Riverfront Park on Brownstone Avenue; and the Portland Recreational Complex, on Portland-Cobalt Road.
Pollinators such as bees, flies, butterflies, moths, bats, and birds play a vital role in upholding and enhancing the well-being of society. Crops pollinated by insects include many of our fruits (apples, pears, cherries, strawberries, raspberries), fruiting vegetables (squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers), nuts (almonds) and sources of oils (sunflowers, canola). According to the US Forest Service, over 1,000 of the plants we harvest and depend on for food, beverages, fibers and medicines require pollination. In the United States alone, bees and other pollinating insects produce $10 billion worth of food products every year.
In addition to their value to human food security and the agricultural sector, pollinating animals play a critical role in maintaining ecosystems. In our region, about 75% of all flowering plants are pollinated by insects or other animals. Birds and other wild animals feed directly on caterpillars and other insects and also feed on fruits and seeds that are the products of pollination. The increasing use of herbicides in agriculture has decreased the floral resources available to pollinators, and the pesticides highly toxic to bees are another threat. In addition, honeybees and other pollinators suffer from the global spread of parasites and diseases. These factors have led to local extinctions of pollinator species. Creating pollinator habitat free from pesticides helps to counter these threats.
Among the benefits to a municipality as a result of pollinator protection measures are enhancing agricultural production and local food supply/food security and protecting ecosystem services such as species protection and biodiversity. An important co-benefit of planting trees, shrubs and perennial plants is climate mitigation. Plants take up carbon dioxide, fix carbon as organic matter and produce oxygen as a result of photosynthesis, and pollinators are key to the reproduction of flowering plants that produce this vital service.
Other co-benefits of pollinator protection are the purification of water and prevention of soil erosion through sturdier roots and foliage to buffer the impacts of rain. Plants are needed to return moisture to the atmosphere and, of course, are dependent upon pollinators for reproduction. Creating pollinator pathways will also enhance community cohesion through new gathering places and educational opportunities that result from the creation of pollinator gardens.
We encourage our residents and businesses to establish pollinator gardens themselves.
The following sites will provide information on the types of plants to be established.
Organizations and Relevant Programs