The decline of native pollinators and what individuals can do to help reverse this reduction was the focus of guest speaker UMass-Dartmouth Professor Dr. Rob Gegear at the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust’s (DNRT’s) 49th Annual Meeting of Members held on September 17. Following state coronavirus guidelines, the meeting was held outdoors at the DNRT Center at Helfand Farm, where attendees were distanced from each other on the lawn in front of the historic Helfand house.
Gegear opened his talk by describing the diversity of pollinators and the plants that host them, as well as the economic and ecological importance of these species. Gegear then spoke about “The Beecology Project” that he launched to involve citizen scientists in identifying which native pollinators are attracted to which plant species. Starting with the 11 native bumblebee species in Massachusetts, the project has been able to identify which native flowers can be planted to benefit the most imperiled bumblebee species.
Based on the data gathered through the Beecology project, Gegear then set up a test plot at the Helfand Farm Community Gardens to demonstrate the effectiveness of these native plants in attracting declining bumblebee species. Installed in the spring of 2020, the garden plot is already a success, attracting two species of declining bumblebees. Following his talk, Gegear gave a tour of this plot. Going forward Gegear will expand his research and his partnership with DNRT to include pollinator corridors and research stations at other DNRT reserves.
The Annual Meeting began with reports by DNRT Treasurer Tip Tracy, Executive Director Dexter Mead, and President Lorraine Granda. Tracy highlighted the excellent financial health of DNRT while Mead and Granda thanked DNRT members old and new for their outpouring of support since the pandemic began. DNRT has heard from many people about how important its reserves and nature trails have been to them for exercise, escape, and relaxation during this time of crisis.
Mead also thanked all those who contributed to the success its 2019 “Preserving Dartmouth’s Coastal Farms” campaign, done in partnership with the Buzzards Bay Coalition (BBC). This project succeeded in raising $2 million to protect the 128-acre Apponagansett Bay Farm on Bakerville Road and the 21-acre Eva’s Garden on Jordan Road. Nearly 80 acres of Apponagansett Bay Farm was acquired by DNRT and, after a year of preparation, was opened as its “Dike Creek Reserve” in August 2020. The reserve’s lovely trails, diversity of habitats, and wonderful views of the Dike Creek marsh have quickly made it a local favorite.
In other business, DNRT members elected four members to its Board of Directors: Elyse Baggen, Jim Dorsey, Dan King, and Doug Roscoe; and re-elected Jane Ashley, Bettina Borders, Mike Labossiere, and Katie White to second three-year terms. Officers elected were Lorraine Granda as President, Andy Mellgard as Vice-President, Peggy Gildersleeve as Secretary, and Clifford “Tip” Tracy as Treasurer. Outgoing Board members Bob Feingold, Jim Forbush, Susan Heide, Gretchen Knowlton, and Haven Roosevelt were all thanked for their hard work and dedication.
For more information about DNRT, see https://dnrt.org/. For more information about the Beecology Project see https://beecology.wpi.edu/.
DNRT is a non-profit, membership-supported land trust with a mission “To preserve and protect Dartmouth’s natural resources for people and nature, forever.” Over the last 49 years, it has worked in partnership with other conservation organizations, state agencies and the Town of Dartmouth to protect 5,500 acres of natural areas and farmland in Dartmouth.