After years of planting a home garden to attract endangered pollinators like bees and butterflies, Bend resident Basey Klopp had a vision to create more spaces for the threatened species. Klopp, a 48-year-old mother of two boys who worked for a native plant nursery, launched Bend Pollinator Pathway, a volunteer-led initiative that will start this month.
The project is working with the city of Bend, Bend Park & Recreation District and local residents and businesses to plant pollinator gardens across the region.
The goal is to rebuild habitats for the hundreds of bee, butterfly, moth and hummingbird species throughout Bend and Central Oregon, Klopp said. Worldwide, more than 40% of insect species are facing extinction due to pesticides and habitat loss, according to international studies.
“The great news is that we know exactly what we need to do,” Klopp said. “We need to plant native plants.”
As residents start planning spring gardens, Klopp hopes they consider adding native plants such as milkweed, buckwheat and western wallflower. Milkweed is especially important for monarch butterflies, which lay their eggs on the native plant.
The monarch butterfly population is in crisis. A count in 2017 showed the population fell to fewer than 29,000 in North America, down from 1.2 million counted in 1997, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Klopp uses the distressing statistics as motivation.
“This is a critical point that we have reached, and I am fueled and I am not getting bummed out,” Klopp said. “It’s past time for action.”
Bend Pollinator Pathway’s first work this spring is planting a native pollinator habitat at Worthy Brewing’s Garden Club on the east side of Bend and then adding gardens all the way to the Deschutes River.
Klopp and a group of volunteers will plant gardens along the Veterans Memorial Bridge on Newport Avenue, at the intersection of Wall Street and Bond Street, at Franklin’s Corner Community Garden and at three roundabouts in the Orchard District neighborhood.
Those interested in volunteering or creating their own gardens, can visit the Bend Pollinator Pathway website at www.pollinator-pathway.org/towns/bend, or join the Facebook group at www.facebook.com/BendPollinatorPathway.
“We know it has been proven that some pollinators can only travel a certain distance away from their nest or their food source,” Klopp said. “If we have an area across Bend that is a continuous habitat, we can support the most diverse pollinators.”
Cheryl Howard, the city of Bend volunteer coordinator who oversees pollinator gardens, said she has worked with Klopp since 2014, when Klopp started volunteering at Franklin’s Corner Community Garden at Ninth Street and Franklin Avenue.
Klopp received a $1,500 grant through a Mt. Bachelor program to install a native pollinator garden next to the community garden on Franklin Avenue.
“We support a number of volunteer-driven initiatives in the city,” Howard said. “It’s not limited to Basey’s efforts alone, but she is one of our most dynamic volunteers, certainly.”
Bend Pollinator Pathway is an ideal project for the city to support because it meets several of the city’s goals, such as conserving water and becoming more sustainable, Howard said.
“These initiatives support a number of different directives from multiple departments at the city,” Howard said.
Klopp plans to keep growing the project through more public outreach and expanding to other cities in Central Oregon.
Later this year, Bend Pollinator Pathway will host an event June 21 to June 27 in honor of National Pollinator Week and distribute native pollinator plants for free to Bend residents.
Other events will be announced on the project’s Facebook page.
“A lot of people are aware of the troubles of our pollinators,” Klopp said. “I think people really want to do something to help out.”