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Greening EPA

Pollinator Protection at EPA

Over the past several years, the population of important pollinators has declined in the United States and internationally. Pollinators play a key role in agriculture, since the majority of native plants require pollination by bees or other pollinating animals.

To address the threat of diminishing pollinator populations, the White House issued a memorandum in 2014 establishing a Pollinator Task Force that developed the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. This strategy aims to reverse the declining pollinator populations through actions by federal departments and agencies.

Photo of a bee on a flowerLeafcutter bee in the pollinator garden at EPA’s Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, campus

EPA has launched a Pollinator Protection Initiative and is conducting pollinator site assessments to promote pollinator communities and habitats at its laboratories. In order to establish a comprehensive pollinator baseline, these site assessments:

  • Inventory flora types
  • Identify observed pollinator species
  • Review landscaping practices

Monarch Waystation SignMonarch Waystations provide food and shelter for migrating monarch butterflies in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

The pollinator baseline will be used to shape landscaping decisions that will protect and expand pollinator communities at EPA laboratories. For example:

  • EPA’s campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, has a pollinator garden that was recognized in 2015 as a Monarch waystation, providing necessary resources to sustain migrating Monarch butterflies on their journeys each spring and fall.
  • The National Analytics Radiation Laboratory in Montgomery, Alabama, established a community garden in 2017. In addition to attracting pollinators, this location donates produce from the garden to the Montgomery Area Food Bank.
  • In Corvallis, Oregon, the Western Ecology Division’s (WED’s) pollinator committee continued to expand its pollinator habitat by installing milkweed meadow, native prairie grass and pollinator gardens, which feature a honey beehive and mason bee hotel.

Other facility best practices observed during the assessments include:

  • Converting unused portions of lawns into native wildflower meadows or prairies
  • Incorporating a water feature to provide a source of clean water for the pollinators
  • Planting native trees and shrubs when site vegetation needs to be replaced
  • Eliminating pesticide and herbicide use to avoid harming pollinators
  • Having a pollinator committee with a designated lead to protect and promote pollinators at the facility