The Gallatin Conservation District wants to attract more beneficial pollinators to our county, but we need your help. You can participate in our Pollinator Initiative program and receive FREE SEED to create pollinator plots from a small backyard plot all the way up to 2,500 square feet!
This program was started by the Lake County Conservation District located in Ronan, MT and has been making it’s way across the state. Montana’s Conservation Districts are motivated to protect pollinator species of all kinds by increasing the amount of pollinator habitat available via pollinator gardens. These gardens provide habitat and food sources for native pollinators and beneficial insects including bees, butterflies, and moths.
With the help of the NRCS Bridger Plant Materials Center, we have designed two pollinator-friendly seed mixes for landowners to use in creating their pollinator gardens, a Native Pollinator Mix and a Conservation Pollinator Mix. 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 both mixes to serve as pollinator nesting material and to help compete with weeds.
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 of 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 conservation pollinator habitat. 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.
Check out the Seed Mixes from the links below:
Native Pollinator Mix
Conservation Pollinator Mix
To participate in the program and to receive free pollinator seed mix, landowners will need to sign an agreement committing to proper site prep (which we’ll advise you on), long-term maintenance, and allowing us to occasionally survey the site and take photos to help us improve our seed mixes in the future. Our seed mixes are packaged in 100 sq ft, 500 sq ft, and 1,500 sq ft increments, but landowners can receive any amount of seed up to 2,500 sq ft.
Gallatin Conservation District will work with landowners to:
- Select an appropriate site
- Provide guidance on site preparation
- Optimize timing of planting
- Determine maintenance needs
- Assist with plot monitoring
The success of any new seeding is largely dependent upon the condition of the seedbed into which it is seeded. A clean, weed-free seedbed is critical for optimizing success. To determine what site preparation will be needed, please see the Planting Guide for step-by-step instructions on preparing your site (linked below).
On March 16th, 2021, we held an informational webinar about the Gallatin Pollinator Initiative and the importance of promoting beneficial pollinator habitat where we can. Monica Pokorny, a Plant Material Specialist with the NRCS Bridger Plant Materials Center discussed best management practices for creating and enhancing pollinator habitat. Check out the video on our YouTube channel linked below.
Check out the following document from NRCS about Creating and Enhancing Habitat for Pollinator Insects:
For additional information on creating and enhancing habitat for pollinator insects, visit our Pollinators additional resources page.
Interested in participating in the Pollinator Initiative? Just fill out the interest form (below) and submit it to our office by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or mail: 120 S 5th St, Suite B104, PO Box 569, Manhattan, MT 59741. We’ll contact you with next steps!