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PMC's and Collaborations: A Recipe for Pollinator Conservation Success

Old Crow Wetland in Huntingdon, PA before planting of wildflowers.The USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program and its 25 Plant Materials Centers (PMCs​) work with an array of partners to address resource concerns with plant studies and evaluations.  Results of these studies include improved plants and new vegetative technology for NRCS conservation planners and the general public.  The decline of pollinator habitat across the country is an example of a resource concern of importance to the agricultural community.  The majority of crops we eat (fruits, vegetables, and nuts) and most plants found in natural ecosystems across the globe rely on pollinators for fruit and seed production. Healthy, abundant pollinator populations and habitat are needed to ensure that the next generation of plants will be produced. The USDA NRCS Big Flats Plant Materials Center has been working on studies that focus on selection, establishment and maintenance of native wildflower habitat for pollinators since 2008.  

Old Crow Wetland after three years. Many colorful flowers can be seen and attract many species of pollinators.The PMC provides technical assistance to field office personnel as well as assists in the establishment of pollinator habitat through direct seedings and field demonstration plantings in several states.  A recent example of a collaborative effort between the PMC and Pennsylvania NRCS staff was the establishment of a pollinator-friendly garden at the historic Old Crow Wetland Complex in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.  The PMC staff provided technical assistance and plant materials while PA NRCS staff and others installed the planting.  Upon completion, the site contained 26 different species of native wildflowers that had been tested at the PMC for establishment, persistence and other plant attributes prior to inclusion in the garden.  While the purpose of the planting was to provide beneficial plants for pollinators, several other conservation benefits were attained including enhanced species diversity, invasive species control and reduced soil erosion.

Today, the wildflower planting and garden at the Old Crow Wetlands is flourishing.  It serves not only as pollinator habitat, but also as a seed source for plantings in the surrounding area and a teaching resource for pollinator awareness.  Based on the findings of long-term studies and demonstrations like Old Crow, pollinator species recommendations for the Northeast region and related technical documents are published on our website.  Study information is also incorporated into New York’s Field Office Technical Guide.  

For additional information, please visit the USDA NRCS Big Flats Plant Materials website or email Shawnna Clark, Big Flats PMC manager, at shawnna.clark@usda.gov.

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For more information on the USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program click here.