As you likely know, one of the best ways to help declining pollinators and other wildlife is to restore safe habitat for them. Through the Xerces Society’s habitat kit program, we provide plants and resources to folks with the interest, experience, and land to make it happen. We offer carefully selected, native and regionally appropriate plants directly to our partners for shovel-ready projects. We are currently offering habitat kits in several regions of the United States to qualifying partners.
Our coworkers Kass Urban-Mead and Jessa Kay Cruz share snapshots of two of the habitat kit programs, for the Mid-Atlantic and California, and why Bee City and Bee Campus affiliate communities may want to apply! We’ve had a few Bee Cities receive kits in the past – we’ll share more on that another time. Below those you’ll find a list of habitat kits available in 2024. Check it out to find out whether there is a kit program in your area.
Snapshot: Mid-Atlantic Monarch and Pollinator Kits
Pollinator Conservation Specialist, The Xerces Society
Partner Biologist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
The eastern monarch butterfly population has declined more than 80% since the 1990s. One of the most significant actions we can take to protect this iconic butterfly and other pollinators is to increase the amount of high-quality, pesticide-free habitat across our landscape — but access to habitat plants can be expensive and challenging! In order to help remove this barrier for community organizations, we are thrilled to offer “habitat kits” to selected Project Partner organizations with shovel-ready projects. See below for more guidance on the kind of project that would be suitable. If you think you have a suitable project that would benefit from a habitat kit, please submit a project proposal, which is due by end of day on Sunday, February 18. Review will begin on Monday morning, February 19. We hope you will consider if these plants might be a good fit for an organization within your Bee City or Campus!
There are four choices of kit this year, with 2 shrubs and 500 to 1,100 herbaceous plants per kit, depending on the kit. The kits also include habitat signs in Spanish and English, a planting guide, and project guidance from Xerces. Plants include milkweed for monarch caterpillars and a wide range of nectar plants to support adult monarchs and other native pollinators. Project partners in turn provide the time, labor, and land to create, maintain, and protect the perennial pollinator habitat for the foreseeable future.
Projects could include — but are not limited to — working lands, farms, restoration projects, tribal lands, public lands, parks, schools, and other educational sites. Many of the kits this year are designed to be appropriate for urban farms, community gardens, and other shared and educational spaces in cities. Our target areas are Philadelphia, New York City, and urban New Jersey. The remainder of the kits are appropriate for farms and other larger sites. Priority will be given to projects with educational components, and/or those that benefit historically underserved communities.
Thanks as always for your incredible commitment to our beloved and crucial pollinators, and we look forward to continuing this work together!
Snapshot: California Monarch and Pollinator Kits
Jessa Kay Cruz
Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist, The Xerces Society
Many pollinating insects are declining in California, including bees and butterflies. The population of western monarch butterflies has declined 95% since the 1980s, due to a variety of reasons, including habitat loss and degradation, pesticides, and climate change. One important step we can take to protect these important animals is to increase the amount of habitat. As with our other regional habitat kit programs, our California program provides climate-smart native plants to project partners who are willing to provide the time, labor, and land to develop pollinator habitat. Since the California Habitat Kit program began in 2019, we have given away 189,302 plants to support 465 projects.
We are excited to be kicking off our 2024 season and will begin accepting project proposals on February 12; the deadline for submission is April 5. California habitat kits are intended to be used to create or enhance monarch and pollinator habitat on working lands, public lands, tribal lands, and private and non-working lands recovering from wildfires, with landowner or land manager collaboration. This includes farms, ranches, tribal land, post-wildfire recovery areas, urban farms or gardens, city parks, school gardens, or other public areas. We encourage projects that will benefit historically underserved or underrepresented communities.
We have awarded habitat kits to a number of Bee City and Bee Campus partners over the past several years, and would love to support more of these great projects!
Each year that we manage this program, we are awestruck by the diversity of landscapes that are being transformed. Through their projects, people are creating greenspaces in cities, parks, preserves, farms, ranches, schools, and tribal lands. From coastal dunes to chaparral, oak woodlands to grasslands, and vineyards to vegetable gardens, our partners are forming a patchwork of refugia for people and pollinators alike.
Habitat Kits are currently available for the following regions (ordered by proposal deadline):
Qualifying projects: Urban farms, community gardens and spaces, working lands, public lands and tribal lands. Not for residential or private homes.
Qualifying locations: Mid-Atlantic and NYC region.
Special kit features: Supports monarch butterflies and native pollinators.
Project proposals: Submission opens January 19; deadline is February 18, 2024.
Kit pickup: May to June
Qualifying projects: Working lands or community food initiatives.
Qualifying locations: Wisconsin
Special kit features: Supports monarch butterflies, native pollinators, and beneficial insects.
Project proposals: Submission opens January 30; deadline is March 6, 2024.
Kit pickup: June
Qualifying projects: Historically underserved and community-serving urban farms, community gardens, and community organizations.
Qualifying locations: Metro Detroit, MI.
Special kit features: Emphasis on urban agricultural landscapes and habitat aesthetics in cities; native plants attractive to pollinators, natural enemies of pests, and your community.
Project proposals: Submission opens February 5; deadline is March 16, 2024.
Kit pickup: Late May / Early June
Qualifying projects: Working lands, public lands, tribal lands, and private/non-working lands recovering from wildfires.
Qualifying locations: Distinct regions in California (Central Coast, Central Valley, Sierra Nevada Foothills, and Southern California).
Special kit features: Supports monarch butterflies and other pollinators; climate-smart selections.
Project proposals: Submission opens February 12; deadline is April 5, 2024.
Kit pickup: October to November
Proposals not yet open:
Qualifying projects: Working lands, public lands, tribal lands, community spaces. Not for residential or private homes.
Qualifying locations: Distinct regions in Oregon — the Willamette Valley and the Klamath-Siskiyou Region of SW Oregon.
Special kit features: Supports monarch butterflies and other native pollinators, climate-smart selections.
Project proposals: TBD for 2024
Kit pickup: October
Qualifying projects: Yards and home gardens of residential areas and select public locations.
Qualifying locations: Residential areas of metro Santa Fe, NM and public spaces in northern Santa Fe County, NM.
Special kit features: Supports Santa Fe native pollinators, drought-tolerant selections.
Project proposals: TBD for 2024
Kit pickup: August