State partners with Toyota to promote pollinator conservation

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State partners with Toyota to promote pollinator conservation
Rachel Rosenberg, partner biologist with W.Va. DNR and Natural Resources Conservation Service, demonstrates technique.

Landowners in the Kanawha Valley had a hands-on opportunity to learn how to create pollinator habitats on their properties through a recent workshop hosted by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia Inc.

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Susan Olcott, pollinator project leader for the division, says landowners across the state can avail themselves of the benefits of landscaping for wildlife by visiting .

"About 40 percent of native pollinators in the United States are in decline, so we here at the WVDNR are trying to give landowners the tools they need to help reverse that decline," Olcott says.

A new pollinator garden will enhance an entrance to the Toyota Plant at Buffalo, West Virginia.

Planting native flowers and plants is one of the most important things landowners can do to help revive native pollinator populations, she says.

"Not all pollen and nectar are created equal, so when you plant a pollinator garden like the one we have here at Toyota you want to plant native species because pollinators thrive on native pollen and nectar," she said.

Olcott and wildlife biologists from the division and representatives from Toyota, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service met with landowners in May.

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Amanda Williams, an environmental engineer for Toyota, said participating in the pollinator program seemed an ideal way to celebrate the automotive manufacturer's anniversary in the scenic Kanawha Valley.

"This is our 25th anniversary here in West Virginia, so we decided to collaborate with the DNR to host this conference to educate landowners about the importance of pollinators," Williams said.

"Our goal at Toyota is to reduce energy consumption and to be an environmentally friendly company."

Because more than 80 percent of land in West Virginia is privately owned, public-private partnerships are needed to advance the state's conservation efforts, said Scott Warner, assistant chief of Wildlife Diversity for the division.

"Private landowners attending today’s workshop had an opportunity to meet with state and federal representatives to learn what technical and financial assistance programs are available to improve their land, which in turn helps our state’s pollinator species,” Warner said.

"We hope our landowners continue to take an interest in pollinator conservation and that they’ll reach out to our representatives that came to this workshop."

Pollinators are an integral part of the environment and require diverse habitats to survive. Landowners interested in improving their property by creating habitat for pollinators may contact Lacey Smith, WVDNR/NRCS partner pollinator specialist, by calling 304-368-6909 or sending an email to Lacey.Smith@usda.gov.

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