New York State Celebrates Pollinator Awareness Week 2015

Written by Long Island News & PR  |  16. June 2015

Albany, NY - June 15, 2015 - New York State is celebrating Pollinator Awareness Week from June 15-21 with several events highlighting the importance of key species such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to the state's environment and agricultural economy, state Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball and state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued a proclamation commemorating the week and affirming that New York State is committed to the promotion of the health and recovery of the pollinator population, which will be the focus of a new state agency task force.

"As a farmer, I know how important pollinators are to ensuring an abundant supply of food for all New Yorkers and to the growth of our agricultural economy," said Commissioner Ball. "Bees pollinate a wide variety and some of the most profitable crops grown in the state. I'm pleased the Governor has designated this week Pollinator Week, which will help educate New Yorkers about the decline in pollinators and highlight this critical issue. Through the task force, and with the help of our partners, we'll look to take the next steps and develop best management practices to conserve the species."

"Pollinators are vital to the state's crop, food production and in the maintenance of healthy and diverse ecosystems across New York," said DEC Commissioner Martens. "Unfortunately the pollinator populations have been in decline over the last 20 years due to a combination of factors including parasites, pesticides and poor nutrition. A main focus of the task force will be to protect the remaining pollinators and to find solutions to bring their numbers back up."

"State parks rely upon pollinators to help maintain the beautiful plant life and ecosystems that are present throughout our state," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. "Thanks to the initiative taken by Governor Cuomo, the creation of this interagency task force will be a great step forward in protecting New York's native pollinators and finding a course of action to further prevent their declining population."

As announced by Governor Cuomo in April, the state Departments of Environmental Conservation and Agriculture and Markets are leading the Pollinator Protection Taskforce to examine and develop short and long-term solutions to address pollinator losses in the state and develop a statewide Pollinator Action Plan. Co-chaired by Commissioners Joe Martens and Richard Ball, the taskforce consists of agency officials from the Department of Agriculture & Markets, DEC, Department of Transportation, Offices of General Services, State Parks, and key stakeholders. The Pollinator Taskforce will focus on protecting New York's pollinators and their natural habitats.

The Governor's Pollinator Week proclamation recognizes the importance of pollinators to the State's economy and biodiversity. The number of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, bats, hummingbirds and butterflies, has dropped significantly over the past 50 years. Losses are likely caused by a combination of factors such as poor nutrition, loss of foraging habitat, parasites, pesticides, pathogens, lack of genetic diversity and poor land management practices. Pollinator Week provides an opportunity for New Yorkers to learn about the value of pollinators to our state's agricultural industry and natural habitats, and about how all can work to increase pollinator levels.

Pollinators contribute substantially to the State's economy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pollinators provide $500 million worth of pollination services to New York and add $15 billion in value to crop production nationally each year. New York's ability to produce crops such as apples, grapes, cherries, onions, pumpkins and cauliflower relies heavily on the presence of pollinators.

To celebrate Pollinators Week, on Tuesday, June 16, at 1 p.m. at the Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center at Thacher State Park in the Capital Region, New York Office of State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) Deputy Commissioner for Natural Resources Tom Alworth and New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Assistant Commissioner Kathy Moser will speak about the state's efforts and importance of protecting and preserving pollinators. Students from Berne Knox Westerlo will be on hand to hear the comments and view an active honey bee exhibit on a trail outside the nature center.

In addition, on Wednesday, June 17, at 10 a.m., Commissioner Ball and the Department of Agriculture and Markets' apiculturist will visit McConnellsville Elementary School in Oneida County to educate students on the importance of pollinators to the agricultural industry. The state's apiculturist will also give students an up-close look at the pollination process by displaying a glass observation hive of honey bees, which will allow the students to see the day-to-day activities within a hive.

Additional events highlighting the importance of pollinator planned across the state this week include:

  • Family Fun After School: Get the Buzz on Bees, Bats and Beetles
    Tuesday, June 16, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
    Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar & Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center in Depew
    Children in grades K through 5 explore why pollinators such as bees, butterflies, bats and beetles are important to the environment and we will look for them as we travel along the trail.
  • Park Pollinators Pursuit
    Tuesday, June 16, 2:30 p.m.
    Saratoga Spa State Park (Saratoga/Capital District)
    Celebrate Pollinator Week with us! We will learn about the importance of pollinator species and search for some of the ones found in Saratoga Spa State Park. All ages welcome. Fee is $3 per person or $5 per family. Registration is required; please call 518-584-2000 ext. 150.
  • Wildlife Wednesday
    Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 3 p.m.
    Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve
    (718) 967-1976
    Join us on a pollinator scavenger hunt during New York State Pollinator Week.
  • Friday Hikes
    Friday, June 19, 2015, 3 p.m.
    Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve
    (718) 967-1976
    It's New York State Pollinator Week! We'll be looking for pollinators and playing a pollinator scavenger hunt during our weekly hike through Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve.
  • Pollination Celebration
    Saturday, June 20, 2015, 12 - 1:30 p.m.
    Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve
    (718) 967-1976
    Celebrate pollinator week with us by playing games, learning about native pollinators, and on a pollinator scavenger hunt hike.
  • Indoor Ed-Ventures-Butterfly Beauties
    Sunday, June 21, 2015, 2:00 p.m.
    Letchworth State Park
    (585) 493-3600
    Study the beauty and composition of hundreds of dried butterfly specimens representing most of the world's butterfly families. Dozens of local and New York species as well as those found in the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory are specially noted. Butterfly structure and local natural history will be featured in two new butterfly videos. This is an excellent primer for the Butterfly Walk on July 5th. These programs allow participants a more detailed study of a topic with comparison of hands-on specimens and/or various audio-visual aids and handouts. All workshops meet in the Conference Room in the Visitor Center and Regional Administration Building located in Letchworth State Park.

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