Pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, play an essential role in healthy ecosystems. Yosemite is a refuge for native pollinators, which are experiencing worldwide population drops due to habitat loss. Even in the park’s protected landscape, however, many pollinator-friendly plants are on the decline.

In 2016, Yosemite crews focused on reversing that trend by restoring and improving pollinator habitat. Volunteers and interns worked alongside park staff in Yosemite Valley meadows to remove non-native vegetation, such as cheatgrass and velvet grass, and plant pollinator-friendly species, such as showy milkweed.

This project also provided a valuable opportunity for young people to learn about pollinators and habitat restoration. During the August 2016 Youth in Yosemite summit, for example, middle school Parks in Focus students joined college-age Yosemite Leadership Program and Student Conservation Association interns to spend a day pulling invasives and planting milkweed in Cook’s Meadow.

By the end of the year, crews and volunteers had treated 9.6 acres of invasive plants in prime pollinator habitat; collected thousands of seeds from 65 native plant species to use in revegetating the meadows; and restored 2.5 acres with local flora.

Your gifts helped catalyze efforts to make Yosemite a haven for pollinators, restore the priceless beauty of Valley meadows, and encourage visitors and volunteers to develop meaningful connections with the wild.

Want to learn more about the plant-pollinator relationship? Check out this Yosemite Nature Notes video: “Monarchs and Milkweed.”


Completed in partnership with Yosemite National Park, NatureBridge and Youth in Yosemite programs.


Garrett Dickman

Botanist, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

The monarch butterfly population has decreased 80% from the 20 year average, mostly from the loss of its host plant, the milkweed. Monarch butterflies, once one of the most prolific and renowned international migratory animals, is now a candidate for the Endangered Species Act. Yosemite, as a protected landscape, is a refuge to native pollinators.