Five years ago the U.S. Senate’s approval and designation of the final week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations.

Pollinator Week, being recognized this year on June 19-25, has now grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. Pollinating animals, including bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles and others are vital to our ecosystem, according to a USDA press release, supporting terrestrial wildlife, providing healthy watershed, and more.

With more than a third of our food coming from plants that rely on pollinators, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering a funding opportunity through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help producers get an enhancement plan that will support pollinator habitat.

A pollinator habitat enhancement plan is a conservation activity plan developed to address the improvement, restoration, enhancement, and expansion of flower-rich habitat that supports native and/or managed pollinators. A plan may be developed for either farms or forestland.

NRCS provides part of the payment for the cost of a plan to eligible participants based on average costs associated with practice implementation. The plan will be developed by an NRCS-certified technical service provider.

Applications for pollinator habitat enhancement plans will be accepted on a continuous basis. Applications will be funded as requests are received, eligibility has been determined, and funding is available.

For more information go to me.nrcs.usda.gov or contact your nearest USDA Service Center, listed online at offices.usda.gov or in the telephone book under United States Government, Agriculture Department.

The USDA Service Center serving Waldo County is: Belfast Service Center / 266 Waterville Road / Belfast, ME 04915-9804. Phone number is 338-1964, ext. 3; fax number is 338-4972.

Since 1935, NRCS has provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America’s private landowners and managers conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources. NRCS employees provide technical assistance based on sound science and that is suited to a customer’s specific needs, and provides financial assistance for many conservation activities.