January 08, 2021 Baltimore County

TOWSON, MD –Baltimore County’s naturalists and parkland managers have teamed up at Mt. Vista Park in Kingsville to convert an acre of grassland into a fertile pollinator meadow that will support a range of pollinator species.

Planted within a 12-acre reforestation project at Mt. Vista Park, the meadow includes a mix of native grass and wildflowers and will become established over the next several growing seasons. Crews completed the project in the fall, the best time of year to plant wildflowers, which need to go through a cold season before seeds can germinate.

One-third of the global food supply and more than 75 percent of flowering plants rely on pollinators for reproduction, making them ecologically essential. However, their populations have faced an exponential decline due to habitat loss, pesticides, diseases, parasites, pollution, and climate change. The four major groups of insect pollinator species are bees and wasps, flies, butterflies and moths, and beetles. Other pollinators include bats and hummingbirds.

The plantings at Mt. Vista Park were selected for this site because they are native to Maryland, provide habitat or foraging sites for pollinators and are more resistant to foraging by deer. Species include Virginia wildrye (Elymus virginicus), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), purple node Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum), yellow false indigo (Baptisia tinctoria), wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), goldenrods (Solidago spp.), and New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis).

The 2015 reforestation project at Mt. Vista Park converted 12 acres of an abandoned golf course to native tree canopy, with tree species selected for their benefits to water quality and wildlife, including pollinators. Oaks and hickories provide a critical source of high-energy food for 96 species of mammals and birds, especially in the winter when food is scarce. Hackberry and black gum trees provide fruit for many songbirds, gamebirds, and small mammals.

The pollinator meadow, the County’s latest pollinator-friendly initiative, was a collaborative effort by the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS), Recreation and Parks, and the Office of Property Management.

County’s free pollinator guide helps landowners protect pollinators

Last winter, in response to exponential declines in pollinators over recent decades,
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski released a free publication designed to help residents and businesses create and preserve pollinator-friendly habitats on their properties. Created by EPS Forest Management Supervisor Carrie Oberholtzer, the guide is a practical how-to guide for gardeners, homeowners and businesses on creating and maintaining pollinator habitat.

The booklet provides hyper-local information, including prevalent soil types and species native to Maryland, to help people attract and protect pollinators on their property by establishing pollinator gardens, meadows and bee-friendly lawns.

The guidebook also details the County’s efforts to protect pollinators through a coordinated multi-agency approach, including:

  • strategically reducing mowing on underutilized fields in Baltimore County parks, and maintaining meadows where appropriate;
  • installing and maintaining native plant gardens in County nature centers;
  • emphasizing the planting of perennial flowers around County buildings;
  • creating living shorelines and wetland habitat;
  • planting native species in our reforestation projects;
  • controlling and managing invasive species and deer populations; and
  • minimizing impacts from pesticides.