The town of Poolesville in just released pictures of the pollinator habitat retrofitted at the town’s 1.1MW solar array on approximately 6.6 acres. This is co-located agriculture and solar in action.
From bees to butterflies, a worldwide decline in pollinators has entomologists trying to figure out how to help those bugs and the plants that rely on them survive. The answer could come from a mixture of new technology and new habitat, and the timing is critical, as the monarch butterfly is up for an endangered species listing later this year. Investing in pollinator-friendly native plants at solar sites benefits multiple stakeholders: installers, environmental advocates and communities.
Native, pollinator-friendly plants help the struggling bee population. In 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service listed a bumble bee species as endangered for the first time. A 2017 report on North American and Hawaiian bees by the Center for Biological Diversity found that more than half of native bee species (with sufficient data to assess) are declining. The primary drivers of decline are habitat destruction and pesticide use. It is a win-win, when biologists and solar installers work together to plant flowers under solar sites because it beautifies the site aesthetically and also provides a lot of benefits to farmers.
Thanks to the Sustainable Poolesville Committee (part of the Sustainable Maryland Certified program), Town Manager Wade Yost, committee member Jane Harris, and Preston King and his team for making the pollinator friendly habitat retrofit at the Poolesville Solar Array happen! Mowing reduced to once a year, cutting emissions and costs for fuel. Retrofit attained without used of pesticides. Already the pollinators are enjoying the friendly habitat. And the field is just getting started, with only about a third of the flower buds open now. Other flowering plants will cycle through as the growing season continues.
Poolesville is also certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Community Wildlife Habitat. The mission of the Poolesville Green Team is to create awareness of stewardship and sustainability issues, identify opportunities for the Town to cost effectively reduce its environmental impact, and facilitate initiatives to capture these opportunities. Poolesville became a certified sustainable community in 2014.