As Butterflyway Rangers grew food and shelter for wild pollinators, the Butterflyway Project experienced its own growth spurt this year.
I was one of the David Suzuki Foundation staff who helped put together this initiative, inspired by the award-winning Homegrown National Park project led by Jode Roberts, national Butterflyway Project lead. In 2017, we metamorphosed the idea that people can grow a national park in their backyards into their growing laneways and neighbourhood gardens for butterflies, bees and birds.
After three years of digging, plotting and planting, even COVID-19 could not dampen the Butterflyway Rangers’ spirit. When Lower Mainland residents signed up to join the project this past spring, 86 new Rangers were trained by “alumni Rangers” and UBC Botanical Garden plant and species experts.
Today, there are more than 200 Butterflyway Rangers all over Metro Vancouver and Victoria. In addition to Vancouver, Richmond and the District of North Vancouver, Butterflyway Rangers from Burnaby, South Surrey and West Vancouver joined in 2020 and started smaller pilot projects that will expand in 2021.
We designed the Butterflyway Project to empower humans to help nature. Through it all, Rangers found each other, and their collective effort has made a mark in the natural world and in their lives.
We designed the Butterflyway Project to empower humans to help nature. Through it all, Rangers found each other, and their collective effort has made a mark in the natural world and in their lives. While COVID-19 forced the project to make some changes, Rangers managed to exceed all expectations. They hosted and participated in guided garden and neighbourhood plantings tours to learn and appreciate each other’s work by keeping their numbers small, maintaining physical distancing and wearing face masks.
As project lead for B.C. Rangers, I marvel at their dedication and passion. When Ranger Melissa Haynes started knocking on doors along Vancouver’s Crown Street to build on the Point Grey pollinator initiative started by Ranger Patrick Nangle, more than 60 plantings popped up from West 12th to West 15th. Ranger Carla Frenkel brought Vancouver’s Strathcona community on board with the help of City Green Streets Program co-ordinator Liz Nowatschin. By the time Rangers wrapped up the season, Carla was able to show the team all the street corners and community garden plantings she achieved. Carla and Melissa’s stories are only the tip of the iceberg.
The award could not have arrived at a better time. It’s the perfect recognition of Butterflyway Rangers’ enduring dedication season after season.
One factor that makes the Butterflyway Project tick is our volunteer Rangers’ generosity. In late November, the Butterflyway Project received a major boost — the Canadian Museum of Nature’s 2020 Nature Inspiration Award. Naturally, Butterflyway Rangers across the country are ecstatic. The award could not have arrived at a better time. It’s the perfect recognition of Butterflyway Rangers’ enduring dedication season after season.
In 2021, Lower Mainland Butterflyway Rangers will add more science to our Butterflies in My Backyard project on iNaturalist. With support of Rangers like Stephen Deedes-Vincke, Carol Walters, Anne-Marie Fenn and Jack Dong, and our UBC and the UBC Botanical Garden partners, Rangers will help gauge how their BIMBY work helps butterfly species abundance and diversity.
Our Indigenous pollinator plant map committee — Rangers Selina Pope, Carol Walters, Lori Snyder and Anne-Marie Fenn — will be supported by our partners, the Musqueam Indian Band and Musqueam Language and Culture department, to add Musqueam cultural knowledge and names behind the native plants Rangers planted in 2020. A Musqueam artist will transform the IPPMap in 2021.