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Grow habitat for pollinators in your own backyard

By Brita Olson

When you imagine what “habitat” looks like, what comes to mind? For me, it is easy to picture the forested mountains and numerous rivers and streams of Sanders County, which many fish and wildlife species call home. However, for many pollinator species, you do not have to look any further than your own backyard.

Pollinators, like bees, butterflies, and moths, live in a wide variety of habitats and rely on many different food sources. When these species visit a flower for its pollen or nectar, they may unwittingly brush against the flower’s reproductive parts and pass along pollen from a different flower. Approximately 1/3 of the world’s food crops rely on pollinator species. So not only are pollinators good for numerous diverse species, they also have a huge economic benefit.

However, many pollinator species are threatened by habitat loss and other challenges. For this reason, Eastern Sanders County and Green Mountain Conservation Districts are teaming up with landowners in Sanders County to promote pollinator habitat. This is a part of a larger program to promote pollinator habitat across western Montana being spearheaded by Lake County Conservation District in Ronan.

Whether you have a whole field or a small garden plot, by growing different species of flowers that bloom at different times, you can provide habitat for pollinators by providing them a food source all season long. 

If you are interested in growing food for pollinators, FREE seed mix for plots of 100, 250, 500, or  2500 square feet are available at both the Eastern Sanders County Conservation District and the Green Mountain Conservation District as a part of the Sanders County Pollinator Initiative.

This mix is specially selected for Sanders County and includes flowers of all shapes and sizes. It is best planted in the early spring or late fall, so contact your local conservation district now to get your seed and spend the summer prepping a seed bed for fall planting.

Through the Pollinator Initiative and with support the Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group and the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s 223 Program, conservation districts can connect landowners with support for developing a pollinator garden as well as implementing other conservation practices, such as improving streamside vegetation or installing riparian fencing. Contact your local district to learn more!

Green Mountain Conservation District, (406) 827-4833, OR Eastern Sanders County Conservation District, (406) 826-3751,