Pollinators welcome! SUNY New Paltz earns Bee Campus USA certification

SUNY New Paltz is the newest affiliate of Bee Campus USA, an organization that works to make the world safer for the creatures that enable our natural landscapes to bloom, by promoting the creation of new, sustainable pollinator habitats.

The College’s certification is a triumph of the new Biodiversity Initiative, a collective of New Paltz students, faculty and staff who are developing pollinator-friendly spaces on campus, and educating peers and colleagues about the importance of these hardworking insects, birds and small mammals.

“Members of the SUNY New Paltz community are fortunate to live and work near many scenic preserves, farms and protected parks, but habitat loss is still a significant issue for pollinator species in our region,” said President Donald P. Christian. “Our certification with Bee Campus USA recognizes the collective effort, led by members of our Biodiversity Initiative, to sustain a rich and vibrant ecosystem on our campus and throughout the Hudson Valley.”

While bees and other pollinators remain central to agricultural production and plant species diversity, bee populations have seen steep declines in many areas of the country in recent years.

“One out of every three bites of food we eat is provided by the work of a pollinating insect,” said Lisa Mitten, campus sustainability coordinator. “They do us tremendous service, and yet their existence is deeply threatened by loss of habitat, the disappearance of the plants they depend on, exposure to pesticides and destabilized climate patterns.”

In many cases, supporting pollinators can be as simple as nurturing habitats in which they can thrive, by cultivating locally native plants in new landscapes.

A new Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan, authored by alumna and Biodiversity Initiative leader Laura Wyeth ’18 (Biology), identifies dozens of pollinator-friendly trees, shrubs and perennials that could fulfill this purpose at SUNY New Paltz.

Many are already in bloom. In recent years the College has added a new green roof in front of Haggerty Administration Building, planted wildflowers near Science Hall, and created a large pollinator meadow near the Gunk Pond. Each of these spaces was intentionally developed as a welcoming home for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other helpful organisms.

They provide additional benefits to campus, too. The green roof, for instance, absorbs rainwater to offset the risk of flooding in the Haggerty Administration Building.

Visit the Office of Campus Sustainability to learn more about green infrastructure at SUNY New Paltz.

Bee Campus USA and Bee City USA are parts of a broader campaign by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to promote pollinator survival, one community at a time.

Xerces has published a list of four principles anyone can adopt to help pollinators thrive.