Bear Yuba Land Trust pollinator garden thriving thanks to community and BriarPatch shoppers

Photos from BYLT

During Earth Week, three girls from Girl Scout Troop 505 pulled weeds and planted native plants at the Community Pollinator Garden at Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT’) Adam Ryan Preserve, near the neighborhood of Alta Sierra.
“I like being near the earth,” said Tova Rothert, age 10.
“…and helping plants and people,” added Julia Barbieri, age 11.
“It’s fun and satisfying to pull weeds,” said Delaney Sherr, age 11.
Using money they earned from cookie sales, the girls purchased and donated native plants to the garden, such as columbine, yarrow, penstemon, and ceanothus or “California lilac.” Local efforts like these offer promise that backyard gardens can help curb the global decline of pollinators that threatens the world food supply.
The BYLT pollinator garden was started in the winter of 2016, when 35 volunteers came together with shovels and native plants. The project was funded two summers ago by the BriarPatch Co-op Cause program, a successful fundraising tool that allows shoppers to make donations to their favorite charity by rounding up their purchases to the nearest dollar at the register. Today, over 70 native plants, including milkweed, flannel bush, redbud, California pipe vine, foothill penstemon, and yarrow grow in BYLT’s 3,000 square-foot garden, attracting native pollinators as well as migratory and native butterflies that are considered important to the local food supply.
“These pollinators require having these plants around for their continued existence. We planted native shrubs and wildflowers with the hopes of attracting more pollinators and encouraging more symbiotic relationships between plants and their pollinators,” said Stewardship Program Manager Erin Tarr.
Pollinators include some 20,000 species of wild bees and contribute to the growth of fruit, vegetables, many nuts, and flowering plants. Plants that depend on pollination make up 35 percent of the world’s crop production, with a value of as much as $577 billion a year.
Climate change, pesticides, mono crops, parasites, and pathogens have combined in recent years to create a complex number of pressures that are causing the demise of pollinators. Many pollinator species are threatened with extinction, including 16 percent of vertebrates like birds and bats, according to a report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, a group formed by the United Nations and represented by 124 countries. The report warned of “high levels of threat” for some bees and butterflies, with at least nine percent at risk.
A nature preserve, like Adam Ryan Preserve, is a protected area for wildlife, flora, fauna, or other special land features. The 37-acre public nature preserve features meadows, forests, and a popular nature trail along Dog Bar Road and Alta Sierra Drive. Many of the plants growing in the garden – such as Humboldt lilies – were removed from BriarPatch Co-op’s native plant area prior to the remodeling of the store’s parking lot. Now, after the wettest winter on record, the preserve is thriving with year-round blooms – yarrow, flannel bush, lupine, milkweed, and more, attracting bees and butterflies. “It’s awesome to see they have survived,” said Tarr.
This is the third time Girl Scout Troop 505 has volunteered for the Land Trust. In the past, they’ve pulled Scotch broom and planted native bulbs at the Land Trust’s Burton Homestead near Nevada City. Troop Leader Christy Sherr says the girls are “environmentally savvy” with interests in nature and science. With a background in public lands and State Parks, Sherr wanted the girls to do something tangible within their own community. It’s a natural fit for the young conservationists to work with the Land Trust, a non-profit organization that for 27 years has saved more than 12,000 acres of land from development.
BYLT is a community-supported organization that promotes the voluntary conservation of natural, historical, and agricultural resources in the Bear and Yuba River watersheds of the Sierra Nevada. Besides conserving land, BYLT has built and maintains 35 miles of trails and each year gets hundreds outdoors to encounter the wonders of nature through a vibrant trekking and educational program. Learn more at

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