Pollinator Initiative

Through our Pollinator Initiative, Ruby Valley Conservation District is working hard to increase and improve pollinator habitat throughout the Ruby Valley. RVCD is doing this by starting pollinator gardens at the Sheridan and Twin Bridges FFA farms, and at Jackson’s Garden. Along with these three sites, our goal is to educate the public and supply resources for community members to start their own pollinator gardens. You can join our pollinator initiative by receiving your FREE pollinator seed mixes, and checking out our planting guide and other resources below!

Pollinators enable 75% of the world’s flowering plants and 35% of our food crop to reproduce. Native pollinators not only provide important ecosystem services that enable our survival, but they also play a critical role in supporting native plant and animal communities. To date, scientists have identified 450 species of native bees in Montana, with the actual number estimated to be nearly 1000. Montana is also home to the largest number of bumble bee species in the country. With factors including habitat loss, lack of food resources, climate change, and improper pest management practices, many species of native bees are seeing population declines. Pollinator gardens can help to counteract population decline by providing ample forage and habitat for pollinators throughout the year.

This program was originally started by the Lake County Conservation District located in Ronan, MT, and has been making its way across the state. With the help of NRCS Bridger Plant Materials Center and Gallatin Conservation District, we have both a native mix, and conservation mix of pollinator-friendly seeds for landowners to use in creating their own pollinator gardens.

Both mixes include flowers with different colors, shapes, heights, and bloom times to attract a wide variety of pollinators and provide a food source all season long. A small percentage of grasses are included with our nonnative mix to serve as pollinator nesting material and to help compete with weeds. A native grass seed can be added to our native mix as well.

A bee visits Sheridan’s pollinator garden in 2021.

Our Native Pollinator Mix includes wildflowers that are native to southwestern Montana. We opted to keep the grass (Indian Rice Grass) separate from the Native Pollinator Mix so the landowner has the option of broadcasting the grass with the mix or separate from the mix (bordering plot or alternating rows).

Our Conservation Pollinator Mix is primarily made up of wildflowers that are not native to SW Montana, BUT they grow well in our climate and serve as beneficial pollinator habitats. The Conservation Pollinator Mix was created for locations that may need to compete with noxious weeds that are already established in the plot area or for larger plots where weed mitigation would be more difficult. The non-native species in this mix do not become noxious themselves. The grasses have been pre-mixed within the Conservation Pollinator Mix

If you would like to claim your free pollinator mixes, you can reach out to info@rvcd.org or (406) 842-5741 x 104.

Funding

Funding for this project was made available through a Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Pollinator Grant.