Quin Holifield at a bee event for NPLD

NPLD Event Spotlight: Baltimore is Already Buzzing with NPLD Fun

On September 19, the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks (BCRP) and the USDA Forest Service Baltimore Field Station (BFS), along with a variety of local businesses, community organizations, and others, came together to get a jump on National Public Lands Day by launching a two-week effort to repopulate the region’s bee population.

In 2014, Baltimore City experienced a bee colony collapse. Since then, bee populations have decreased by 60%, seriously affecting all plant species in the vicinity, which is driving up the price of fruit as well as local energy bills due to thinning forest canopies. To address this issue, BCRP and the Forest Service are bringing together volunteers from throughout the city—including more than 40 Baltimore City schools—to help restore a pollinator garden at Winans Meadow at Leakin Park.

The park is adjacent to Gwynns Falls Trail (GFT), a unique 22-mile continuous urban greenway park located in the west and southwest sections of Baltimore City along the Gwynns Falls Watershed. The site is one of 49 National Heritage Areas managed by the National Park Service (NPS).

Event organizer Quin Holifield, a soil scientist at the Forest Service’s Baltimore Field Station, explains that the project will help increase biodiversity in the park while connecting participating youth and adults to nature. The pollinator garden at Winans Meadow—one of the largest woodland parks in the Eastern United States—is one of about 20 pollinator gardens the team plans to install around the city during this extended NPLD event.

NPLD volunteers will prepare flower beds, plant native species, and receive hands-on training and information on how to maintain a pollinator garden. Organizers hope reintroducing native bees through this project will entice more bees and butterflies to return to the city. After the event, the project will become an outdoor classroom and provide a setting for educational and training purposes.

“This project is a great way to get the community to engage in nature on a level that is not intimidating for them,” explains Holifield, who been with the FS in Baltimore for the past 12 years. “A great thing about being in an urban Forest Service office is that people come to us and let us know what they need help with. This is a great way to get people involved in filling a local need.”

The project is suitable for families with children over the age of 12. To learn more, contact William (Billy) Schrack, National Park Trust, william@parktrust.org.