• Talent adopts resolution to become second Bee City USA

    Guidelines encourage areas of undisturbed vegetation to foster buzzing pollinators
  • Talent is in line to become the second Bee City USA in the country following approval Wednesday of a City Council resolution that adopts the title and national guidelines.
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  • Talent is in line to become the second Bee City USA in the country following approval Wednesday of a City Council resolution that adopts the title and national guidelines.
    "That is awesome. The biggest thing to do is having the council adopt a resolution," Phyllis Stiles, executive director of the Bee City USA program, said Thursday.
    A few simple steps are required to complete a process the group's board will review, she said.
    Dolly Warden, a beekeeper and a member of the city's Together for Talent Committee, began promoting the designation last fall. She formed a group that took the proposal to the council. She was sick Tuesday and unable to attend the meeting.
    "It was a gleam in her eye," said Jamie Hickner, a group member. "It's fantastic our City Council approved it tonight."
    Bee City USA encourages city leaders to raise awareness of the contributions of bees and other pollinators. The group wants to foster practices to help pollinators, which can include reduction or elimination of pesticides and establishment of areas friendly to bees.
    Asheville, N.C., is currently the only designated Bee City. The volunteer Bee City organization was created through the Center for Honeybee Research in Asheville.
    President Barrack Obama issued a memorandum June 20 to create a federal strategy to protect the health of honey bees and other pollinators. A pollinator health task force will be established that will devise plans to increase and improve pollinator habitat.
    "We are excited. Until now it has just been Asheville," said Stiles. "The intent was always to spread out across the country. We believe there is a tipping point where the cities realize it is doable."
    Stiles has received three emails from Ashland residents seeking information on the designation. She said Seattle and a city in Pennsylvania are also close to gaining the designation.
    The Talent council discussed the designation at its June 18 meeting. A report by Community Development Director Zac Moody questioned a provision in a draft resolution from Bee City USA that encouraged undisturbed spaces such a leaf and brush piles and unmowed fields left for nesting and overwintering of native pollinators.
    Moody was concerned that requirement might be in conflict with a city ordinance that requires grass and noxious vegetation not exceed 10 inches during fire season and that leaf piles be removed.
    The resolution passed by the council did not include the Bee City undisturbed spaces wording.
    "I can't imagine that will be a deal breaker," said Stiles. "We are learning as we go. We'll have to discuss that. We try very much to make it about supporting the pollinators. We know it will be different for each city."
    Additional steps to gain the designation include establishment of a pollinator subcommittee, installation of a Bee City USA street sign, posting pollinator information on the city website, annual celebration of National Pollinator Week and yearly renewal of the designation.
    All six council members voted for the resolution.
    "I think it's a step in the right direction," said Cheri Hammons, a member of Warden's group. "There's still a lot of work to be done for our pollinators."
    Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.
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