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Root-Pike WIN Secures Grants for UW-Parkside “Pollinator Patch Program”

Published: August 19, 2020

By: Root-Pike WIN/UW-Parkside Communications

Kenosha – This fall, Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network (WIN), in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, will begin Phase One of the Pollinator Patch Program, a native re-vegetation effort focused on restoring the federally endangered Rusty-Patch Bumble Bee habitat. Funding for the 20-acre project is being provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Brico Fund. Future phases and improvements are also being planned.

Phase One will be concentrated on removing invasive/undesirable plant species and enriching the native plant community along CTH JR west of the start and finish line of the course. Two land types – the “old growth forest” and “shrub/scrub” – will receive attention over the next three years. The woodland and spring ephemeral species will take three to five years to mature after seeding. The goal is to naturally bring back the immune-boosting foods and much needed habitat that these pollinators must have to thrive.

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UW-Parkside Chancellor Ford

UW-Parkside Chancellor Dr. Deborah Ford said in regard to the program, “When we signed the agreement with Root-Pike WIN in 2019, we knew it was the beginning of a strong partnership. We are pleased to start phase one of the Rusty Patch Bee Pollinator project and the restoration of the nationally recognized Wayne Dannehl Cross-Country Course. This demonstrates another winning opportunity for UW-Parkside, Root Pike WIN, Ranger Athletics, runners of all ages, and the environment.”

Before the area was settled, historical native prairie and oak savanna once grew. Over the past 100 years, non-native species and insect diseases have invaded the 210-acre UW-Parkside natural area. Loss of native food sources, habitat and stresses from pathogens are reducing the federally endangered Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee (RPBB)’s numbers. Since the farmland was never planted properly since its acquisition in the 1960’s, the natural area lacks the native vegetative diversity the RPBB needs to thrive. This fall, Root-Pike WIN and UW-Parkside will begin reversing these negative conditions.

The Root-Pike WIN and UW-Parkside partnership was created to boost the habitat for the Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee through a major native species replanting effort. The net benefit also adds value to the UW-Parkside campus and the Kenosha-Racine community. Native plants reduce flooding, cleanse storm water, bring more related native species to the food chain, and add to the aesthetic appeal in the hub of the Pike River watershed.

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Phase One

According to Dave Giordano, Executive Director of Root-Pike WIN, “This project will have a positive domino effect on more “patches” within the cross-country course – and throughout southeastern Wisconsin. It’s the start of something pretty special that generations of people… and pollinators will come to love.”

Root-Pike WIN is leading the planning, fundraising, design and implementation efforts. The UW-Parkside is the ultimate decision-maker and will remain the landowner. Course operations may have some minimal access impacts, but work will be timed to occur around restoration activities – and the Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee’s foraging and nesting needs.

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UW-Parkside student Katie Loesl-Dunk surveys the bee population with Root-Pike WIN's Nan Calvert. Student participation is a key part of the program and UW-Parkside's "Ranger" spirit!

Director Giordano sums it up by saying “We’re adding to the ‘Bee at Parkside’ vision. Our focus on this delicate pollinator will also strengthen the course’s natural storm water functions.” 

To learn more about the Pollinator Patch Program or other Root-Pike WIN initiatives, visit their website at www.rootpikewin.org.

Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit that restores, protects and sustains the Root-Pike basin by building partnerships, finding funding, and managing projects to improve some of the most impaired Lake Michigan tributaries in the state of Wisconsin.

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