PHOENIX — Placement of signs proclaiming designation as a Bee City USA in late August has increased awareness of the city's status as one of three Rogue Valley communities committed to protect and encourage pollinators.

Talent and Ashland already have Bee City status. In addition, Southern Oregon University is the first Bee Campus USA designated by Bee City USA of Asheville, N.C. There are only 14 other cities nationwide with the status.

“The reason we are doing this is so that our kids will have food. Two-thirds of our vegetables and grains are due to pollinators,” said Phoenix resident Sharon Schmidt, who described herself as the ringleader of the effort to gain designation. “Pollinator health certainly has a great deal to do with human health.”

Phoenix received notice of its status during June after the City Council sought the action. The signs are attached to “Welcome to Phoenix” structures at the north and south entrances to the city on Highway 99.

Bee City requirements include creation of a committee devoted to pollinator conservation, designation of a municipal department as sponsor and one of its employees as a liaison, a resolution that encourages pollinator-friendly behaviors, elimination or monitoring of pesticide applications and provisions for safe removal of bees when required.

Phoenix’s Public Works Department is the sponsor and its administrative assistant, Theresa Syphers, is the liaison. Phoenix Bee City Committee members include Schmidt, Annie Drager, Janice Dawn and Judy Grillo.

Once certified, cities must annually celebrate their status with a proclamation and public-awareness activities, put up signs and Web links, and submit an annual report when seeking renewal.

Other Bee City USA municipalities are in North Carolina, Kentucky, Washington, Michigan, Idaho and Wisconsin.

Ideas for creating bee-friendly habitats and a plants list for pollinators in the area can be found at www.PhoenixOregon.gov under the Bee City USA link below Commissions and Committees.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.