House Bill (HB) 224 was passed by the Utah legislature in March 2021. It tasks the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) with creation of a three-year pilot program to improve pollinator habitat in Utah. UDAF is currently receiving support from local non-profits and other conservation specialists with initial efforts to establish the pilot program.
Many pollinator species (bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and others) are in decline worldwide due to a combination of factors including habitat loss and degradation, pesticide use, and changing climate. Pollinators are key to the production of specialty food crops such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and seeds which provide us with essential micronutrients. Specialty food crop production in Utah is being promoted under UDAF’s current Specialty Crop Block Grant Program designed to enhance the competitiveness of Utah-grown specialty crops.
The vast majority of pollinator species are wild, including more than 900 species of native bees that call Utah home. Some wild bees are excellent pollinators of Utah’s tree fruits, raspberries, squashes, melons and cucumbers. These hardworking insects may rarely be noticed but they are key to ecosystem stability and food production.
Under the Utah pollinator pilot program (Utah Code 4-2-701), UDAF may implement one or more of several objectives to increase awareness of and habitat for pollinators including the provision of grants that cover up to 25% of the costs for the planting of pollinator-friendly native plants or seeds in Utah on private or public land. Utah’s landowners and managers are instrumental in promoting land stewardship practices that enhance the health and diversity of our pollinators while supporting Utah’s specialty crop production. We encourage you to participate in this exciting and rewarding pollinator pilot program.