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APS volunteers work to attract bees and butterflies back to Verde Valley
In just one generation, the populations of bees, butterflies and other insects in Arizona and across the globe have plummeted. Since the 1980s, the Western Monarch butterfly population wintering in the west has plunged, from 4.5 million to under 2,000, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. It also found the American bumblebee population has dropped nearly 90% and could qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act. These important pollinators play a crucial role in the entire eco system, vegetation and food production - three-quarters of America’s crops depend on pollinators to some extent.
Arizona Public Service Co. (APS), the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation teamed up to make a difference in the Verde Valley in the effort to bring back the bees, grow their natural habitat and protect the environment. About 20 volunteers from APS and the Yavapai-Apache Nation recently gathered in the Prescott National Forest to make and disperse pollinator-friendly seed balls. The mix of seeds inside was specially developed for native flowers which provide nectar and host plants for pollinators.
“These pollinators are rapidly losing their habitats,” said Conor Flynn, APS Natural Resource Specialist. “They’re suffering from widespread use of pesticides and increasing temperatures from climate change. Their environment has changed, and that’s why events like this one, no matter how small, make a difference.”
The seed ball event happened near Wet Beaver Creek in the Rimrock area, but APS has built and maintains multiple pollinator habitats in our service territory as part of an integrated vegetation management program. These are primarily located in areas under power lines where APS manages the vegetation as part of efforts to conserve the land and reduce the risk of wildfires near electrical equipment.
“It’s important that we do what we can to keep our state beautiful and protect even the smallest ecosystems,” said Flynn. “By bringing back our pollinators, we’re preserving our environment for today and for future generations to come.”