Kane approves $5K matching grant for pollinator conservation

Plan to aid farmers, bees, butterflies for greater crop production

GENEVA – The Kane County Board Tuesday approved a proposal to plan how farm and farm-adjacent properties can best include pollinator conservation spaces and practices.

The county applied to the ComEd Green Regions Openlands Grant program and was selected to receive a $5,000 grant to begin an implementation process, according to the agenda documents.

The grant includes a $5,000 match from the county, either from Growing for Kane grant funds or raised community funds toward the project, documents show.

The planning process is to create a Farm Pollinator Plan for the St. Charles Horticulture Center, at Peck Road and Route 38, St. Charles, which is owned by the University of Illinois and leased to the St. Charles Park District.

Openlands partners with ComEd to administer the ComEd Green Region Program.

According to Openlands' website, www.openlands.org, regarding the grant award to Kane County: "This project will support more fruit and vegetable production in a conservation setting. A Farm Pollinator Plan will be created to illustrating how farm and farm-adjacent properties can best include pollinator conservation space and practices.It will inform farm policies and practices in Kane and the region."

Openlands was founded in 1963 as a program of the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago, is one of the first organizations in the U.S. to address environmental issues within a metropolitan region, according to its website.

The reason behind offering the grant is based on three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35 percent of global food crops depend on animal pollinators – such as bees, butterflies, moths, birds, bats, beetles, and other insects – to thrive, according to the website.

“Threats posed by habitat loss, disease, parasites, climate change, and environmental contaminants have all contributed to the global decline of many pollinator species,” according to the website.

“For example, North American populations of the monarch butterfly have been declining at alarming rates, prompting the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to explore whether this once-abundant species should be listed as an endangered species in serious threat of extinction,” according to the website. “Honey bees and native bee species also have been in major decline across the United States for several decades.”

Illinois has 500 native bee species that support flowering and food plant populations, along with 150 butterfly species and 1,850 moth species. Illinois also serves as a migratory route for monarchs and other pollinators that need appropriate habitat to help them survive and reproduce as they travel, according to the website.

Many plants are completely require foraging pollinators – meaning they cannot produce fruit or seed in any other way, with some scientists estimating "that one out of every three bites of food that we eat exists because of pollinators,” according to the website.

The vote was 22-1 with Board member Thomas Koppie, R-Huntley voting no after arguing against the county spending $5,000. Board member Clifford Surges, R-Gilberts was absent.

“I don’t believe that the county should be in the business of pollinating what nature has pollinated for the eons since the glaciers have melted,” Koppie said. “I would like to make a motion that we strike this resolution or table it until we get a proper presentation on the scientific results of this project.”

Koppie chose to table the resolution. The action died for lack of a second and the board proceeded to a vote without discussion.

Though Koppie cast the lone "no" vote against the resolution, he had voted in favor of it at the June 18 Agriculture Committee meeting.