StreamTeam Update: Clark Public Utilities Pollinator Garden

Pollinator Week is June 20-26! Celebrate by adding some native plants, or a pollinator-friendly water feature to your yard, or stop by the Clark Public Utilities Operation Center to check out our new pollinator garden!

Human activity has led to a significant decrease in the population of pollinators, such as bees. With this in mind, Clark Public Utilities has planted a 2,400-square-foot pollinator garden at our Operations Center, where flowers will be blooming throughout several months to provide nectar and pollen for pollinators. Native plants were used as often as possible, and when non-native plants were used to extend the blooming season, we were sure to use non-invasive plants that do not grow aggressively or spread seeds prolifically. In addition to plants that provide a food source, care was also taken to include habitat in the design. While the plants in the garden are only just starting to take root, word has already gotten out to some of the local pollinators that can be seen visiting this little oasis in an urban jungle.

This is the first of several pollinator projects that we’re undertaking at Clark Public Utilities facilities, so stay tuned to learn more about how we’re making more space for these important species!

Olympic marmot, Olympic National Park, Washington State by VJAnderson via Wikimedia

Creature Feature: Olympic Marmot (Marmota Olympus)

These adorable rodents are only found on the Olympic Peninsula, making them very special to the area. They are incredibly social animals and live with their families for their first couple of years, before venturing off to make their own little marmot lives. They have a sharp, piercing whistle that warns other marmots of predators in the area, or lets hikers know that they’re in marmot territory. During warm, summer days, marmots can be found sunbathing on rocks, grooming and playing with one another and feeding. Before entering hibernation in September, they bring dry grasses into their burrow to make a comfy nest, where they will spend the next seven months sleeping. If your summer plans include visiting Olympic National Park, keep your eyes peeled for this unofficial mascot. If your plans take you East to Gifford Pinchot National Forest, you might see, or more likely hear, the hoary marmot.

Plant of the Month: Vine Maple (Acer Circinatum)

This fan-favorite plays an important role at our restoration sites. While it’s not really a vine, just a tree with slender and sprawling branches, these branches bend and arch and can root themselves where they meet the ground. In doing this, they can form new trees which create dense thickets under the canopy of larger trees. This shade tolerance can make it a great choice for planting in shady yards. When this tree flowers, the stems of the flower are a deep red, with small white flowers on the end. These flowers then become the famous helicopter seeds (also called samaras) that we all love so much! In the fall, vine maple changes to its fall colors, displaying a yellow, then red coloring. As if there weren’t already enough reasons to love vine maple, it also supports a range of pollinators. While honey bees enjoy the sweet nectar from this tree’s small flowers, caterpillars forage on the foliage to grow and metamorphose into moths and butterflies that go on to be pollinator powerhouses.

Activity: Bee Bath

Let’s celebrate pollinator week by helping out some of our favorite pollinators—the bees and butterflies. While everyone has heard of a bird bath, it’s less common to hear about bug baths. However, just like you and I, insects need water sources too! For this month’s activity we’re going to be creating a bee bath for our yards.

  1. First, gather your materials. All you need is something to hold water in (a bowl, a garden pot with no holes, or I prefer to use a plant pot saucer), some rocks and water.
  2. Next, wash off all of the materials you are going to use. The bees and butterflies are going to be bathing and drinking from the bee bath, so you want everything to be as clean as possible!
  3. Now all you need to do is put the rocks in whatever type of bowl you have chosen and fill it up with water, but not all the way, the tops of the rocks should be above the water level so that the bees can sit on them while they drink.
  4. Finally, put your new bee bath in a location where bees are likely to be busy at work. Think near flowers!

We’re Hiring

We are searching for six motivated candidates who are interested in serving a 1,700 hour term from September 1, 2022 to July 15, 2023 through the Washington Service Corps.

Open positions include:

We’re also hiring Student Technicians for multiple projects.

Open positions include:

If you or someone you know if looking to gain experience in environmental restoration and build skills that will set them apart in the field, don’t miss these opportunities!

Community Events

Columbia Springs – Repair Goes Remote – Drop Off
Wednesday, June 25 and 28, 4-6 p.m.
Vancouver and Battle Ground

Do you have an item that needs to be repaired? Let the volunteers with Repair Clark County help!

Repair goes remote is unable to work on: microwaves, gas engines or holiday light strings. We are also unable to work with bikes, right now, due to space constraints. A good general guideline: any item brought in for repair must be easily carried by one person. Any item can be refused a repair attempt for any issue such as size or leaking oil, ink, etc.

Register your item for repair here.