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Pollinator Conservation Resources: Mountain Region

A bright orange monarch perches on a small cluster of pink blossoms in a grassy area.
(Photo: Xerces Society / Stephanie McKnight)

Welcome to our Pollinator Conservation Resources for the Mountain Region! Here you'll find region-specific collections of publications, native seed vendors, and other resources to aid in planning, establishing, restoring, and maintaining pollinator habitat—as well as materials to help you learn about the species of invertebrates and native plants you might encounter. For more resources, see our Publications Library or learn about our Pollinator Conservation Program.

Click to return to the Pollinator Conservation Resource Center home page.

 

Habitat Assessment

Pollinator Habitat Assessment Guide:  Idaho Farms and Agricultural Landscapes

This pollinator habitat assessment guide is designed for a single site on a farm or agricultural landscape in Idaho.

 

Habitat Assessment Guide for Pollinators: Yards, Gardens, and Parks

Landscaping for pollinators is one of the easiest ways for urban, suburban, and rural residents to directly benefit local wildlife. Schoolyards, community gardens, back yards, corporate campuses, rain gardens, and neighborhood parks all have the potential to meet the most basic needs of pollinators, including protection from pesticides, and resources for foraging, nesting, and overwintering. 

 

Habitat Assessment Guide for Beneficial Insects: Farms and Agricultural Landscapes

This beneficial insect habitat assessment guide is designed for a single site on a farm or agricultural landscape.

 

Pollinator Habitat Evaluation Guide

This Colorado USDA-NRCS habitat assessment tool uses a a ranking spreadsheet that calculates the relative value of individual farms and rural landscapes for native pollinators.
 

Pollinator Biology and Habitat: Colorado
An in-depth guide to native bee ecology and conservation for natural areas and farms in Colorado.

 

Estimated Costs to Establish Wildflower Plantings Using Chemical Fallow

This Xerces Society fact sheet provides a quick overview of the estimated costs of establishing wildflower habitat for pollinators on conventional farms.

 

Habitat Installation

Organic Site Preparation for Wildflower Establishment

Site preparation is one of the most important and often inadequately addressed components for successfully installing pollinator habitat. These guidelines provide step-by-step instructions, helpful suggestions, and regional timelines & checklists for preparing both small and large sites.

 

Establishing Pollinator and Beneficial Insect Habitat on Organic Farms in Idaho: An Installation Guide for Meadows and Hedgerows

These pollinator habitat assessment guides are designed to help educate conservation planners and landowners, prioritize conservation actions, and quantify habitat or land management improvements for pollinators or beneficial insects on a single site.

 

Establishing Pollinator Meadows from Seed
Establishing wildflower habitat for pollinators is the single most effective course of action to conserve pollinators that can be taken by anyone at any scale. These guidelines provide step-by-step instructions for establishing pollinator meadows from seed in areas that range in size from a small backyard garden up to areas around an acre.

 

Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

This 16-page bulletin will help you use cover crops to encourage populations of pollinators and beneficial insects on your farm while you address your other resource concerns. It begins with a broad overview of pollinator and beneficial insect ecology, then describes cover crop selection and management, how to make cover crops work on your farm, and helpful and proven crop rotations. It will also touch on the limitations of cover crops and pesticide harm reduction, among other topics.

 

Estimated Costs to Establish Pollinator Hedgerows

This fact sheet outlines the estimated costs of establishing hedgerow habitat for pollinators. Pollinator hedgerows are diverse linear plantings of native flowering trees, shrubs, perennial wildflowers and grasses designed to provide foraging and nesting habitat for pollinators. These estimates represent average costs of establishing hedgerows from transplants, and are derived from a series of pollinator hedgerow habitat projects throughout the United States. Actual costs vary from project to project and region to region.

 

Plant Lists

Milkweed Seed Finder

As part of our Project Milkweed, we have created this comprehensive national directory of milkweed seed vendors to help you find sources of seed. To learn more about monarch butterflies and how you can participate in conservation efforts, please visit the Xerces Society’s Monarch Butterfly Conservation page or the Monarch Joint Venture webpage.

 

Monarch Nectar Plant List:  Great Basin

This regional list of monarch nectar plants is geared toward gardeners, landscape designers, and land managers who are implementing small- to large-scale monarch restoration projects in Nevada, part of Utah, and small sections of the surrounding states of Oregon, Idaho, and California.

 

Monarch Nectar Plant List: Inland Northwest

This regional list of monarch nectar plants is geared toward gardeners, landscape designers, and land managers who are implementing small- to large-scale monarch restoration projects in eastern Oregon and Washington into parts of western Idaho and northern Nevada.

 

Native Plant Profiles and Lists

The Xerces Society has collaborated with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to create plant lists that are attractive to native bees, bumble bees, honey bees, and other beneficial insects, as well as plant lists with value as nesting materials for native bees. These lists can be narrowed down with additional criteria such as state, soil moisture, bloom time, and sunlight requirements.

 

Plants for Pollinators in the Intermountain West

This NRCS Technical Note provides guidance for the design and implementation of conservation plantings to enhance habitat for pollinators. Plant species included in this document are adapted to the Intermountain West; encompassing southern Idaho, eastern Oregon, northern Nevada, and northern Utah.

 

Plants for Pollinators in the Inland Northwest

This NRCS Technical Note provides guidance for the design and implementation of conservation plantings to enhance habitat for pollinators. Plant species included in this document are adapted to the Inland Northwest; encompassing eastern Washington, northeastern Oregon and northern Idaho.

 

Plants for Pollinator Habitat in Nevada

An in-depth guide to native bee ecology and conservation for natural areas and farms in Nevada.

 

Gardening for Native Bees in Utah and Beyond

This Utah State University Extension fact sheet is a guide to native and introduced garden plants appropriate to Utah and other Great Basin states. The guide includes color photos of various recommended plant species, and typical bees that might visit them.

 

Recommended Plants For Pollinators and Beneficial Insects: California Deserts & Southern Nevada

The plants in this Xerces Society-produced list are recommended for use in pollinator habitat restoration and enhancement projects in urban, rural, natural, and agricultural landscapes in the California Deserts and Southern Nevada.

 

A Guide to the Native Milkweeds of Oregon

A series of regional guides to the native milkweeds of North America, developed in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

 

Monarch Butterfly Nectar Plant Lists For Conservation Plantings 

Monarch Butterfly Nectar Plant Lists for Conservation Plantings is a helpful tool for ecological restoration, providing lists of plants known to support monarch adults and caterpillars.

 

Native Milkweeds: Great Basin Pollinator Plants

A regional guide to the native milkweeds of the Great Basin, developed in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

 

Native Milkweeds:  Pollinator Plants of the Desert Southwest

A regional guide to the native milkweeds of the Desert Southwest, developed in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

 

Roadside Habitat for Monarchs: Milkweeds of Colorado

A diversity of milkweed species is found on roadsides, and play an important role in supporting the life cycle of monarchs. This guide can help you recognize the most common native species of milkweed on roadsides in your region.

 

Roadside Habitat for Monarchs:  Milkweeds of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington

A diversity of milkweed species is found on roadsides, and play an important role in supporting the life cycle of monarchs. This guide can help you recognize the most common native species of milkweed on roadsides in your region.

 

Roadside Habitat for Monarchs: Milkweeds of Montana and Wyoming

A diversity of milkweed species is found on roadsides, and play an important role in supporting the life cycle of monarchs. This guide can help you recognize the most common native species of milkweed on roadsides in your region.

 

Habitat Management

Maintaining Diverse Stands of Wildflowers

High quality pollinator meadows sometimes experience a decline in wildflower diversity or abundance as they age. This guide provides recommendations on how to bring declining meadows back into a high quality condition.

 

Collecting and Using Your Own Wildflower Seed

In this document we outline the basic steps of collecting native plant seed using readily available, non-specialized equipment, as well as tips for cleaning, storing, and sharing seed to expand pollinator habitat on farms and in our communities.

 

Nesting & Overwintering Habitat For Pollinators & Other Beneficial Insects

This guide focuses on a variety of natural nesting habitat features that can be readily incorporated into most landscapes. Compared to artificial nesting options such as bee blocks and bee hotels, natural nesting habitat features often better mimic the natural nest site density of insects, and also break down naturally with time, limiting disease and parasite issues.

 

Best Management Practices for Pollinators on Western Rangelands

The Xerces Society developed these guidelines to help land managers incorporate pollinator-friendly practices into rangeland management. This publication is focused on federally managed rangelands that span the following western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

 

Roadside Best Management Practices that Benefit Pollinators

These best management practices provide concrete steps that can be taken by any roadside management agency to improve roadside vegetation for pollinators. The BMPs cover management of existing habitat, including ways to modify the use of mowing and herbicides to enhance roadsides, and methods to incorporate native plants and pollinator habitat into the design of new roadsides.

 

Roadside Habitat For Monarchs: Monarch Butterflies, Weeds, and Herbicides

Roadsides provide more than just milkweed. They can also provide diverse nectar sources to feed adult monarchs and other pollinators—but ensuring that roadsides can continue to provide the best habitat requires some thought and care. This guide highlights best management practices to reduce the impacts of herbicides on monarchs.

 

Western Monarch Management Windows: Timing Management in Monarch Breeding Habitat

Based on the best available data for when and where monarchs breed in the West, we have developed regionally appropriate monarch breeding habitat management windows, when management activities are least likely to have negative effects on monarchs.

Pesticide Protection

Guidance to Protect Habitat from Pesticide Contamination: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Pollinator Habitat

This Xerces Society guidance document was designed to help growers, land managers, and others safeguard pollinator habitat from harmful pesticide contamination. It includes information on selecting habitat sites, as well as ways to maintain clean habitat by limiting and carefully managing pesticide use.

 

Smarter Pest Management: Protecting Pollinators at Home

Most of North America’s native bee species only forage over a distance of a few hundred yards, so with a little planning, your yard can provide a safe space for bees and other pollinators to thrive. All you need to give them are flowering plants throughout the growing season, undisturbed places to nest, and protection from pesticides. This Xerces Society guide will help you with the last item, managing yard pests in a pollinator-friendly way.

 

Smarter Pest Management: Pollinator Protection for Cities and Campuses

This Xerces Society fact sheet introduces to city and campus land managers the concept of integrated pest management (IPM), a system that emphasizes prevention first and seeks to eliminate the underlying causes of plant diseases, weeds, and insect problems rather than relying on routine use of pesticides.

 

Buying Bee-Safe Plants
Creating a welcoming home for local pollinators in your home garden or city park habitat is reason enough to choose plants free from harmful pesticide residues. Nurseries are more likely to make investments in pollinator-friendly production if their customers make it clear this is what they want. Our guide, Buying Bee-Safe Plants, covers four ways to help you find plants that are safe for bees, and includes tips and questions to use at the nursery.

 

Offering Bee-Safe Plants: A Guide for Nurseries

Three core elements of pollinator-friendly growing include using non-chemical methods to prevent and manage pests, monitoring of pest pressure, and limiting risk to pollinators if pesticides are used. These concepts are rooted in integrated pest management and are familiar to most growers. Offering Bee-Safe Nursery Plants: A Guide for Nurseries explains these concepts further and was created for wholesalers and retailers to explore, encourage, and implement pollinator friendly pest-management in the nursery business.

 

Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides: Fungicide Impacts on Pollinators

From large farms to small backyard gardens, many people use fungicides to control plant pathogens. While insecticides have long been recognized as a threat to bees and other beneficial insects, fungicides have generally been assumed to be relatively harmless. Though most fungicide exposures won’t kill a bee immediately, a growing body of research suggests that some fungicides can cause subtle yet significant harm. This Xerces Society fact sheet delves into how these impacts on pollinators occur, and offers mitigation measures and alternative pest management strategies.

 

How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides 

This detailed guide, produced jointly by the extension services of Oregon State University, Washington State University, and the University of Idaho, offers guidance on how to select and apply insecticides. Extensive tables list the toxicity to bees of dozens of chemicals and how long after application they remain hazardous to bees in the field.

 

Protecting Bees from Neonicotinoids in Your Garden

Neonicotinoids are a group of insecticides that are used widely on farms, as well as around our homes, schools, and city landscapes. This Xerces Society brochure explains why they are a risk to bees, gives examples of neonicotinoid garden products, and gives some simple tips for protecting bees from these insecticides.

 

How Neonicotinoids Can Kill Bees: The Science Behind the Role These Insecticides Play in Harming Bees

In this Xerces Society report, we present an overview of research that clearly documents neonicotinoid impacts on bees. The report also covers what can be inferred from existing research, and identifies knowledge gaps that will need to be filled to allow for better-informed decisions about the future use and regulation of these chemicals.

 

Beyond the Birds and the Bees: Effects of Neonicotinoid Insecticides on Agriculturally Important Beneficial Insects

This Xerces Society report details potential negative impacts of neonicotinoid insecticides on important beneficial insects. It also makes recommendations on how we can better protect important beneficials like beetles and wasps.

 

Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

These Xerces Society guidelines provide a brief overview of how to select and apply pesticides for organic farm operations while minimizing pollinator mortality. Many of the practices outlined here for protecting pollinators also can help to protect beneficial insects such as parasitoid wasps and flies; predaceous wasps, flies, and beetles; ambush and assassin bugs; lacewings; and others. The presence of these insects can further reduce pest pressure and the need for chemical treatments.

 

Common Organic-Allowed Pesticides: A Comparative Overview

Intended as a companion document to Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators and Beneficial Insects, this fact sheet is intended to be a quick reference to help you select and use organically-approved pesticides with the least impact on bees and other beneficial insects.

 

Supporting Ecologically Sound Mosquito Management: Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides

This Xerces Society fact sheet provides a brief overview of mosquito management methods that protect both people and pollinators, plus two case studies in effective mosquito management.

 

IPI Database

The IPI database contains summaries of research articles on pesticides, their effects on invertebrates, and pesticide movement in the environment. Articles have been reviewed and summarized to highlight key findings by Xerces Society staff.

 

Preventing or Mitigating Potential Negative Impacts of Pesticides on Pollinators Using Integrated Pest Management and Other Conservation Practices

Agronomy Technical Note No. 9.

Identification & Monitoring Resources

Bumble Bees of Colorado

This pictorial guide to the bumblebees of Colorado features photos, species discussions, county distribution maps, elevation ranges and more.

 

Pocket Guide to Identifying the Western Bumble Bee

A full color print-and-fold guide to the Western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis), a formerly common species believed to be in decline. Includes images of similar looking species.

 

Bumble Bees of the Western United States

This US Forest Service guide provides information to identify 30 bumble bee species found from the west coast to the Rocky Mountains.

Native Seed & Plant Vendors

Milkweed Seed Finder

As part of our Project Milkweed, we have created this comprehensive national directory of milkweed seed vendors to help you find sources of seed. To learn more about monarch butterflies and how you can participate in conservation efforts, please visit the Xerces Society’s Monarch Butterfly Conservation page or the Monarch Joint Venture webpage.

 

Applewood Seed, Arvada, CO
Applewood provides bulk, wholesale wildflower and native grass seed, as well as Rocky Mountain regional and custom seed mixes.

 

Blackfoot Native Plants Nursery, Potomac, MT
Blackfoot Native Plants Nursery offers native grass, shrubs, and wildflower plants found in the prairies and dry montane forests of the Rocky Mountain West region.

 

Draggin Wing Farm, Boise, ID
Draggin Wing Farm offers a wide selection of native perennial plants for water-conserving landscapes such as Southern Idaho, N. Nevada, E. Oregon, and N. Utah.

 

Granite Seed, Lehi, UT
Granite Seed specializes in a diversity of local ecotype seed of grasses, forbs and shrubs native to the western USA.

 

Native Ideals Seed Company, Arlee, MT
Native Ideals Seed Farm grows high quality, native wildflower seeds for the arid West.

 

Native Seed Foundation, Moyie Springs, ID
Native Seed Foundation specializes in seeds of woody shrubs, small trees, and ground covers native to the Intermountain and northwest.

 

Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute (PCEI) Learning Nursery, Moscow, ID
The Nursery makes available, through retail and wholesale sales, locally sourced native trees and shrubs of various sizes.

 

Pawnee Buttes Seed, Inc. , Greeley, CO
Pawnee Buttes Seed, Inc. provides native and introduced grass, forb, and shrub seed, along with wildflower seed mixes for Colorado and the Rocky Mountain area.

 

Santa Ana Native Plant Nursery, Bernalillo, NM
Santa Ana Native Plant Nursery provides plants of flower, grass, tree, vine and shrub species native to the high desert and Southwest U. S.

 

Sierra Valley Farms, Beckwourth, CA
Sierra Valley Farms offers (retail and wholesale) native high elevation plants native to California and Nevada.

 

Stevenson Intermountain Seed, Inc. , Ephraim, UT
Stevenson provides grass, wildflower, shrub and tree seed of both native and introduced species.

 

Western Native Seed, Coaldale, CO
Western Native Seed specializes in native plant seed of wildflowers, trees and shrubs, grasses, wetland species, and regional seed mixes for the Rocky Mountain region and the western Great Plains.

 

Westscape Wholesale Nursery, Bozeman, MT
Westscape offers containerized plant material of native grasses, perennials and small shrubs native to S. W. Montana.

 

Wildland Nursery, Joseph, UT
Wildland Nursery provides trees, shrubs and wildflowers native to the Intermountain West.

 

Wind River Seed, Inc. , Manderson, WY
Wind River offers seeds of native plants, including grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, wetland and forest species, to the Great Plains and Intermountain region.

Southern Rocky Mountain Native Seed Mix

Produced by Applewood Seed Company, this mix features high quality native wildflowers that provide sources of pollen and/or nectar for pollinators. To provide nesting habitat for bumble bees and other beneficial insects, two or more species of bunch grass are also included in the mix. This mix is appropriate for habitat restoration in the Southern Rocky Mountains (elevations between 6,000 and 10,000 feet in Wyoming, Colorado & New Mexico).

Further Reading

Farming for Bees

Farming for Bees outlines ways to protect and enhance habitat for native crop pollinators in the farm landscape. Containing a wealth of information about common groups of native bees, their habitat requirements, and conservation strategies to increase their numbers on farms.

 

Habitat Planning for Beneficial Insects

This publication outlines the ecology of many native beneficial insect groups and highlights recommended strategies for conservation biological control—the practice of providing habitat for insects that attack crop pests. While native predator and parasitoid insects alone may not solve all of a producer’s pest problems, they can be an important part of an Integrated Pest Management system and contribute to reduced need for pesticides over time.

 

Farming with Native Beneficial Insects

This comprehensive guide describes how to recognize these insects and their habitat, and how to evaluate, design, and improve habitat for them. Close-up photography and in-depth profiles familiarize you with more than 20 beneficial insects and their kin. Step-by-step illustrated instructions detail specific solutions including native plant field borders, mass insectary plantings, hedgerows, cover crops, buffer strips, beetle banks, and brush piles.

 

Attracting Native Pollinators

Attracting Native Pollinators offers the latest understanding on creating and managing pollinator habitat. Illustrated with hundreds of color photographs and dozens of specially created illustrations, this book will help you make room for the pollinators that you love. 

 

100 Plants to Feed the Bees

100 Plants to Feed the Bees identifies the plants that honey bees and native bees – as well as butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds – find most nutritious, including flowers, trees, shrubs, herbs, and pasture plants.

 

Gardening For Butterflies

Gardening for Butterflies will introduce you to a variety of butterflies that need help and provides suggestions for native plants to attract them, habitat designs to help them thrive, and garden practices to accommodate all their stages of life. Home gardeners will learn how to design a butterfly garden, no matter the size of their space.

 

Pollinators and Climate Change

In California, climate change is expected to cause higher temperatures, more frequent and longer heat waves, and increased drought frequency and severity. Extreme weather events will also become more common. These challenges posed by climate change are extensive, but there ways you can increase climate resilience for pollinators in your yard, neighborhood park, or whole community.

     Building Climate Resilience into Pollinator Habitat Restoration in the Central Valley

     Climate-Smart Right-of-Way Habitat

     Climate-Smart Natural Habitat

     Climate-Smart Agricultural Habitat

     Climate-Smart Urban Habitat

 

Western Monarch Call to Action

This Western Monarch Call to Action, led by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, aims to provide a set of rapid-response conservation actions that, if applied immediately, can help the western monarch population bounce back from its critically low overwintering size. We recognize and support longer-term recovery efforts in place for western monarchs.

 

Western Monarchs Are in Trouble: This Is How You Can Help

In this document we offer simple steps that any individual can take to help support the western monarch population. This is intended as a companion document to the Western Monarch Call to Action, linked in the Related Resources list.