Iowa city opens park to help pollinators thrive

May 27, 2018

MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) — Officials and volunteers in eastern Iowa have opened a park on a former vacant lot with hopes of increasing habitat for bees, butterflies and other insects and demonstrating the importance of such efforts.

The Pollinator Park opened in Muscatine May 19, the Muscatine Journal reported . Volunteers planted new plants during the ceremony.

“There are some very passionate people involved in native habitat reintroduction,” said Jon Koch, a founding member of the Pollinator Park Project group. “We are excited to have such a great area to offer to the public to educate them on the importance of pollinators and the struggling systems that keep them alive.”

The nonprofit hopes to attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other flying insects with the plants, Koch said.

Volunteers from Nature Conservancy of Iowa, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Muscatine County Conservation Board and City of Muscatine helped with the project. Bridgestone Bandag donated most of the seeds, which are all native species, and Muscatine Community College donated the greenhouse.

Pollinator Park will take up to four years to be fully developed, Koch said. It will also feature benches, a pathway and signage to explain how an active prairie is sustained.

The community should do more to increase habitats for pollinators and help connect existing areas like parks and wildlife refuges, he said.

“They’re too far apart and the insects can’t find the next one to go to,” Koch said. “And that’s really a big part of why they think they’re dying off.”

Residents could plant at least 10 native plants in their gardens or yards to help support pollinator species, he said.

“So if we can get interior in the cities and people to plant lots of these things, it will actually give a lot more connection for those insects and those pollinators to help them survive,” Koch said.