Town officials last week endorsed a resolution designed to support the creation of a “pathway” of native flowers, shrubs and trees that form the basis of the food pyramid.
The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 to approve a resolution already adopted by the New Canaan Conservation Commission in favor of pollinator plantings as a way to improve biodiversity here.
“I think that our town should be capable of being a brighter light when it comes to environmental management and open space management,” Commission Chair Chris Schipper told the selectmen at their regular meeting held April 5.
“I would also note that this effort was originally initiated when Cam Hutchins was chair of the Conservation Commission and we have followed through on those desires,” Schipper said at the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
He referred to Hutchins, a lifelong New Canaanite and 1977 New Canaan High School graduate who was deeply involved in the community and was beloved by many here. Hutchins died last summer following a courageous battle with cancer. He was 62.
At the time of Hutchins’s passing, Schipper noted that the former Conservation Commission chair had been instrumental in testing and keeping pesticides and chemicals out of rivers and streams in New Canaan, including ponds, and also had been a key figure in establishing New Canaan’s Land Acquisition Fund.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of the “Pollinator Pathway” resolution. It included a note that “Bees, butterflies, dragonflies, birds and bats all require nourishment from pollinator plants and the insects they host.”
Williams said that although he liked the alliteration of ‘Pollinator Pathway,’ “I think we should change the name to the ‘Cam Hutchins Pathway.’ ”
“One of my dearest friends who pushed this forward,” Williams said.
The other selectmen agreed.
“Good idea,” Moynihan said.
Schipper read the resolution out. It is as follows:
WHEREAS, pollinators are in decline due to destruction and fragmentation of habitat from development, a lack of native plants due to an increase of invasive species, inappropriate and excessive use of pesticides, and a lawn culture that promotes turf grass monoculture which offers no benefits to pollinators and other wildlife;
WHEREAS, pollinator species such as bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinating insects are vital to maintaining healthy and diverse ecosystems;
WHEREAS, native plants support pollinators and all wildlife in New Canaan and beyond by providing food and shelter; they also help prevent erosion, keep our waterways clean, restore soil health and improve the air we breathe;
WHEREAS, pollination is responsible for most of the food we eat;
WHEREAS, five native bee species are threatened, endangered or of special concern in Connecticut and a downward trend is seen in species diversity of bees, butterflies, birds, and many other animals;
WHEREAS, recent scientific research supports the benefits of restoring and reconnecting isolated patches of habitat;
WHEREAS, the Town of New Canaan is cognizant of the need for safe and healthy landscapes for its residents and habitat for important pollinators;
WHEREAS, Cam Hutchins was a favored son of New Canaan and as long-term Chair of the New Canaan Conservation Commission actively advocated for natural, bio- diverse open spaces; and
WHEREAS, the Cam Hutchins Pollinator Pathway Resolution supports the Town of New Canaan SutainableCT Silver Certification effort.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, THE TOWN OF NEW CANAAN, CONNECTICUT does hereby recognize and support the Cam Hutchins Pollinator Pathway Resolution and encourages all residents to:
(1) Reduce lawn size, provide predominantly native and pollinator-supporting plants and assure a sequence of blooms from early spring through fall (see www.pollinator-pathway.org for helpful lists);
(2) Protect and enrich soil by using organic yard-care practices and avoid using pesticides and herbicides. When pesticides and/or herbicides are deemed absolutely necessary, consider hiring an Integrated Pest Management professional with knowledge of how to apply them with the least negative impact on the environment.
(3) Follow best practices for garden clean up: clean up in the spring, allow plant heads to remain through winter when possible, to provide food for wildlife, keep plant stalks standing and leave snags of dead wood for native bees to nest, leave the leaves on flower beds through fall and winter to provide habitat, soil nourishment and protection for overwintering pollinators; and
(4) Have a water feature, e.g., bird bath, fountain or natural water source
Corbet asked that the resolution be amended prior to the vote to include a note that the selectmen “are not trying to just pass a resolution to encourage residents to do these three or four things,” but to help New Canaan achieve “silver status” with SustainableCT. (New Canaan currently has bronze status.)
Moynihan asked whether adopting the resolution would cost the town money.
Schipper said, “This actually could save money if you pursue the strategy of reduced lawn, more meadow, more plantings. You would have less mowing, less noise, less air pollution, less carbon emissions. So I would don’t pursue this as a money-saving objective but as an environmental pathway forward.”
Two years ago, the Parks & Recreation Commission rejected a proposal to install a pollinator garden with educational signage at the traffic circle near the baseball fields at Mead Park, instead approving plantings further away from the Mead Park Lodge and places where people walk.