[Update: June 24]
By C. Infante
[Update: June 21]
The Huron River Watershed Council has also featured our group in their latest blog post, and sent the information out to all their members.  Green Infrastructure for Bees was written by Kris Olsson, the ecologist who led the Planning Commission's May 20th Green Infrastructure workshop.  So we may have more folks joining our effort.  Speaking of which, I thought I'd share this information with you, which I received from HRWC yesterday.   The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is soliciting and funding proposals for organized efforts to help Monarch Butterflies.  I will be asking SEMBA (honey bees association) and the SEMBA (butterfly association)  to consider partnering with us, but the $ match is a challenge. In any case, we can all dream.
Also, if you registered with NRCS for the Conservation Planning list, you will be receiving a call soon to schedule a visit with a NRCS officer who will create a personalized conservation plan for your property. You can then register your property with Farm Services (if you want to) to qualify for up to $1000 per acre of your property (for beginning farmers--less than 10 years), depending on how much you're dedicating to this conservation effort.
Please let me know if you have any questions. And thank you for all the suggestions you've sent to add to our project's priority list. I will send out a complete listing by the end of this month.
I wanted to touch base with you immediately to let you know the NRCS Farm Agency software is down, and they're not sure when it will be functioning. I know several of you called Wilma Bird (734-761-8789 ext.#3, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to sign up for their Conservation Planning program, and they're very excited to come map out green infrastructure for pollinators with each of us.  For a while it looked like we would miss the June 12th deadline because they could not process our paper work but Wilma just called me to say they only need your name and address on the Conservation Projects list (734-761-8789 ext.#3) by the 12th.
I hope she heard from you.
Despite their software problems, The Farm Agency will still take your call to make an appointment to visit your property and create a personalized conservation plan (which you submit with your grant application).  So call them too (the appointment won't be for a month or two).
Then, the entire application (with the plan they've helped each of use create for our property) is due by the end of October.
-- For future reference, all they need is your deed, driver's license, social security number to complete the registration. It's worth doing, as you'll get free landscaping and conservation support, and even a tax break (use your EIN) if you're keeping an apiary--not to mention, many of you live within one mile of an apiary!).
On that point: if you're interested in honey bees but don't have time to set up your own bee yard, you can always offer part of your property as "a hive location" on the Southeastern Michigan Beekeepers Association web site, see the Bargain Room (http://www.sembabees.org/toplevelpages/bargain.html). If you host five or more hives, you qualify as an apiary.
We also have the support of the Huron Valley Watershed Conservation Council (http://www.hrwc.org/). They want to collaborate with us by offering assistance and promoting our activities through their literature and social media outlets. They also want to involve other townships, like Ann Arbor and Green Oak, to maximize the contiguous range of any green infrastructure.
If it's convenient for you, let's determine what our priorities are and, given our specific interests, skills, and available time, how best to organize our efforts. Speaking of skills, the talent this group encompasses would make us the envy of any organization--including media communications specialists, UofM commercial and pesticide applicator, two former NFT officials, several physicians, community organizers, project developers, grant writers, farmers, honey beekeepers, and more.
So, I will list some of the activities I hope to accomplish with our group, which I've named MI Township Pollinator Project (so it doesn't sound exclusive to NFT).
  1. to encourage neighbors, friends, anyone to plant pollinator friendly plants to increase foraging areas and habitat. For excellent research on this problem, please see http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/
  2. to encourage businesses to consider alternatives to lawn landscapes that depend upon pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, which are rightly illegal in Eurpoe (http://www.xerces.org/neonicotinoids-and-bees/. These are honey bee food deserts, or worse.
  3. to encourage The Links to get on board with the  Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program (MTESP). They tout their wetlands as part of the course's charm, so let's see.
  4. to educate everyone who will listen to us about the need to address the decline in pollinators. I will send out information occasionally that is succinct and quickly digested. The Xerces Organization is a great resource, as is the NCRS, SEMBA, and Michigan Bee Association (MBA, http://www.michiganbees.org/). I also attached a few snippets you may already have.
  5. to apply for grant monies that will offset the costs of doing all of the above, and to identify other organizations pursuing similar conservation efforts (so we collaborate, not duplicate)
  6. and (this one is a dream of mine) to make Whitmore Lake the first Bee City in Michigan (http://www.beecityusa.org/)
Because so many of you qualify for the Honey Bee money given your proximity to an apiary, I really encourage you to sign up on Wilma's list and make an appointment with the Farm Service Agency, 734-761-8789 x2.