How to “Bee” Part of the Pollinator Pathway
Create a way-station for pollinators!
• plant native pollinator-friendly trees, shrubs, and perennials!
• provide a source of clean water
• leave some dead wood and dirt patches for nesting bees
Rethink your lawn.
• leave the clippings on the grass as fertilizer
rather than adding chemicals
• leave the leaves--many pollinators overwinter in leaf matter
• consider the use of slow-release organic
fertilizers or none at all
• reduce lawn size by adding native plants
• mow less often
• no need for pesticides! this means a
healthy lawn for your children and
To Sign up, call (877-679-2463) or email us! and learn about planting parties, get resources about invasive and native plants, and be invited to community events!
How to join:
Everyone can join by avoiding the use of pesticides and lawn chemicals and planting native, pollinator-friendly plants (lists of pollinator plants native to the North East available here). Residents can add anywhere from one pollinator-friendly tree, shrub or planter, to a small pollinator garden or a full meadow. Towns can create a pathway by following the steps laid out here.
This Pollinator Pathway project is organized by volunteers from town conservation organizations (listed on each town's page) working together to establish pollinator-friendly habitat and food sources for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinating insects and wildlife along a series of continuous corridors. Most native bees have a range of about 750 meters, so the goal is to connect properties that are no farther apart than that. This project began in 2017 in Wilton, CT. Since then, pathways have been established in over 85 towns in CT and NY and the list keeps growing.
Without pollinators, we can’t feed ourselves. Pollinators fertilize the plants in our yards and parks but also on our farms and orchards. Imported European honey bees are the ones we think of most often, but there are over 349 species of bees native to Connecticut and 416 species native to New York, and they play a vital role in pollinating the plants we rely on in our communities. Pollinator populations are in sharp decline because of pesticide use and loss of habitat. Bee populations, both native and honey bees, have seen sharp declines. Monarch butterflies have declined by 94.6% in the last 20 years, according to the US Wildlife Federation. A recent German study shows a 75% decline in all flying insects in the last 25 years. The threat to pollinators is a threat to us!
Because the Pollinator Pathway “de-fragments” the environment, it benefits our ecosystem as a whole. Our landscape has been chopped up, or fragmented, through urban- and suburban-ization. The problem is, we can no longer support sustainable populations of wildlife in our isolated parks and preserves alone, as Dr. Doug Tallamy, University of Delaware entomologist, argues so eloquently in his book Bringing Nature Home. Luckily, there is a solution. If we begin to manage our own yards organically and with native plantings, we can use them to connect parks and preserves, creating crucial corridors for wildlife. That is the idea behind the Pollinator Pathway.
Why do native plants matter? Our local pollinators have evolved to depend on our local plants. Our caterpillars and bees can’t use trees from China and Japan. The monarch butterfly is a good example as it must have the milkweed plant to survive. Without the milkweed, there will be no monarchs, and we don’t typically put these “weeds” in our yards. They have also been eradicated from fields by farmers, and now the monarch is in danger of extinction.
What to plant. Here are our favorite plant lists.
How This Project Got Started
In 2016 environmentalist Donna Merrill of Wilton was working as part of the Hudson-to-Housatonic Regional Conservation Partnership (H2H) and was tasked with creating a community land stewardship project. She read about a conservation corridor project linking pollinator waystations and decided to try the idea. Merrill offered neighbors between South Salem, NY and Ridgefield, CT free native dogwood trees, funded by H2H, to help create connected pollinator habitat, and it was a huge success.
Next she convened a group in her town of Wilton (the Land Trust, Wilton Garden Club, Woodcock Nature Center, and the Norwalk River Watershed Association) and proposed doing something similar through town. Out of this idea, emerged the Pollinator Pathway as it exists today in the North East, town-based organizations run by volunteers from various town conservation organizations that encourage both citizens and municipalities to plant native pollinator-friendly plants and avoid pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Though each town identifies a pathway that they will focus on connecting by reaching out to home and business owners along it, all are welcome to join the pathway project by simply providing safe habitat way-stations for pollinators.
Pathway member towns share resources and ideas through this website and we had our first all-town partner meeting in March 2019.
This Pollinator Pathway project is organized by a steering committee of volunteers.
The First Pollinator Pathway
Seattle artist, Sarah Bergmann, founded the original Pollinator Pathway which is an interdisciplinary ecological philosophy for healthy global design that connects parks to parks and combats urban sprawl. You can learn more about this project here, here and here.