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New England Pollinator Partnership

New England Pollinator Partnership





Conserving Native Pollinators Benefits Producers across New England

Landowners in New England are invited to participate in the New England Pollinator Partnership (NEPP) to help restore populations of bumble bees and the monarch butterfly.

The Importance of Native PollinatorsRusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) on Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). Photo credit: The Xerces Society, Sarah Foltz Jordan

Native wild pollinators are essential to our environment and agricultural crop production. Native bees play an important role in food production, contributing at least $3 billion annually to U.S agriculture. (1, 3, 4, 5, 6) For example, in Maine, wild bees provide important pollination services to wild blueberry crops. Over an 11-year study, researchers showed that 30-50 percent of wild blueberry crops were pollinated by wild bees. (2)  Native bees and other native pollinators are also critical to pollinating important flowering plants across our forests and natural landscape providing important seeds, nuts, fruit and berries for wildlife. Wild bees themselves are also food for other animals (e.g. birds) and are a central part of the food web, biodiversity, and ecosystem health.

The Challenges Facing Native Pollinators

In the Northeast, several key pollinators have experienced drastic declines including the federally listed (endangered) rusty patched bumble bee, yellow banded bumble bee, monarch butterfly and several cuckoo bumble bees. (3, 4, 6)  These recent declines are attributed to a number of interacting factors including pathogens, habitat loss and degradation, exposure to harmful chemicals, and increasingly extreme weather patterns.

What We’re Doing to HelpMonarch migration. Photo credit: The Xerces Society, Kelly Gill

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Xerces Society and other partners have developed a habitat based multi-state conservation strategy to address the decline in native pollinator populations across New England by improving pollinator habitat.  The New England Pollinator Partnership (NEPP) is a 25-year conservation effort and agreement that provides financial and technical assistance to participating landowners in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine to implement conservation practices benefiting native pollinators. (NEPP Participating States) These conservation practices may involve establishing wildflower gardens or flowering hedgerows adjacent to pollinator dependent crops as well as managing natural habitats. Landowners that participate in this conservation effort will also be provided Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulatory predictability. In other words, by participating in the NEPP landowners are covered if their actions inadvertently harm or kill a threatened or endangered bumble bee during farming operations. Additionally, a participating landowner will not be asked to do more if other bees or the monarch butterfly become endangered or threatened in the future. For additional information on implementing conservation practices and financial assistance, contact a local NRCS Service Center in any of the New England States within this project area.

Question and Answer (Q&A)

The Q&A document is meant to help participating landowners understand the NEPP, how it works, what is required of them, and the benefits of participation.

New England Pollinator Partnership Agreement

This document explains and describes the collaborative multi-state partnership between the NRCS and others, including the USFWS. This partnership is specifically intended to benefit the federally endangered rusty patched bumble bee and two additional species; the yellow banded bumble bee and petitioned monarch butterfly (Target Pollinators). Other associated bumble bee species are also included in the agreement.

Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Guide (WHEG) - Excel version for calculating score

The WHEG is used by NRCS or partner staff to identify limiting factors for our Target Pollinators at any given site and to help guide the selection of NRCS conservation practices.

Promotional Flyer

This flyer provides an overview of the NEPP.

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

As part of the creation of the NEPP, NRCS and the USFWS identified each of the conservation practices that could be used to support pollinators. To ensure implemented practices will support pollinators a set of Best Management Practices (BMPs) was created. These BMPs guide the implementation, maintenance, and management of each conservation practice. The BMPs must be used when implementing and maintaining conservation practices. The BMPs may change over time as new science and information is collected.

NEPP Webinar

This webinar provides a summary of the NEPP and pollinator conservation strategies and tools.

Project Leadership

The NEPP agreement is led by NRCS, USFWS and other partners.  Access the project leadership link above for the list of the committee members.

Additional Resources and Other Pollinator Conservation EffortsYellow banded bumble bee (Bombus terricola) on a wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) blossom. Photo Credit: Dan VanWart, Peaked Mountain Farm

Xerces Society:

Pollinator Conservation Program

Pollinator Conservation Resource Center

Bumble Bee Conservation

Monarch Conservation

Project Milkweed

University of Maine Cooperative ExtensionAmerican bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus) on Pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida). Photo credit: The Xerces Society, Jennifer Hopwood

IPM Tactics to Reduce Pesticide Exposure to Honey and Native Bees

Maine Bumble Bee Atlas

Maine Bumble Bees



  1. Aizen, M. A., Garibaldi, L. A., Cunningham, S. A., & Klein, A. M. (2009). How much does agriculture depend on pollinators? Lessons from long-term trends in crop production. Annals of botany, 103(9), 1579-1588.
  2. Asare, E., Hoshide, A.K., Drummond, F.A., Chen, X., & Criner, G.K. (2017). Economic risk of bee pollination in Maine wild blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium. Journal of Economic Entomology, 110(5), 1980-1992.
  3. Bee Informed Partnership (n.d.). 2018/2019 Total Winter Colony Loss Map. Retrieved from
  1. Forister, M. L., Pelton, E. M., & Black, S. H. (2019). Declines in insect abundance and diversity: We know enough to act now. Conservation Science and Practice, 1(8), e80.
  2. Losey, J. E., & Vaughan, M. (2006). The economic value of ecological services provided by insects. Bioscience, 56(4), 311-323.
  3. Pelton, E. M., Schultz, C. B., Jepsen, S. J., Black, S. H., & Crone, E. E. (2019). Western monarch population plummets: status, probable causes, and recommended conservation actions. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 7, 258.
                                                                                                                                                          Updated December 9, 2020