Friends of pollinators go all in!
Bob and Barb Falconer’s Hillsboro property is a haven for pollinators. From the colorful flowers making up their “bee pastures,” to the brightly decorated honeybee hives and mason bee nesting boxes, there is abundant shelter and food available to support the wide variety of insects that have found refuge on their property. While the upper portion of the property hosts exceptional pollinator habitat, a lower area that sits within the floodplain of McKay Creek struggles to attract the same beneficial insects. But the Falconers have big plans to remedy the flood-prone lower property.
From swamp to safe haven.
The low area was once used for light grazing and farming, but seasonal flooding from the nearby creek limited what could be planted as well as the land’s productivity. While the mason bee hotels and honeybee hives that were installed near the bee pastures stay busy, identical nesting boxes located near the floodplain sit nearly empty. The hope is that will change as the Falconers work with Tualatin SWCD’s Stream Enhancement Program to establish a variety of native shrubs and trees along the stream. These plants will provide foraging ground for pollinators while also shading McKay Creek, helping to regulate water temperature and filter pollutants. As foraging opportunities increase, it is more likely that pollinator nesting will too.
How the stream project began:
The Falconers embarked on the stream project after learning about Tualatin SWCD’s Stream Enhancement Program through a postcard mailed to their home. Their location within the Dairy-McKay Creek sub-watershed made them eligible for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which uses a combination of local and federal dollars to fund practices that improve water quality. In coordination with landowners, Tualatin SWCD facilitates the groundwork to put these enhancement projects in place.
The Falconers have encouraged their neighbors to also consider conservation projects on their properties. This neighborly coordination led to two more landowners joining the stream project, connecting a long stretch of McKay Creek that is was well suited for enhancement, and making it a more impactful project.
Time to get to work…
Once the property was successfully enrolled, the enhancement process could begin. Over three years, contractors periodically will visit the property to control invasive weeds and prepare the site for aggressive planting of native grasses, shrubs, and trees. The Falconers are excited to watch for any changes in pollinator activity as the project progresses. They acknowledge a commitment to long-term benefits is necessary when taking on habitat enhancement projects, and remain motivated by the cumulative effects their property, and the properties of their neighbors, will have on the Tualatin River watershed.