Kudos to the FFA Agricultural Issues Team for alerting Walla Wallans and other residents of Southeastern Washington of the threat to alkali bees by the proposed expansion of U.S. Highway 12 between 9 Mile Hill and Woodward Canyon Road.
For high school students to lead the way in presenting both sides of this environmental dilemma is inspiring. Their presentation will encourage thoughtful planning of how best to meet the needs of alfalfa farmers who depend on pollination by the alkali bees and travelers who need a safer, four-lane highway.
Our area is unique in finding ways to share water to meet the needs of the citizens of Walla Walla, farmers and the Umatilla Tribe in their efforts to reintroduce fish into streams.
Hopefully, the Department of Transportation, farmers, environmentalists and local citizens will also be able to find a way to meet the needs of all concerned, possibly by altering the proposed route.
The threat to the alkali bees is part of a much larger threat to all bees on a global level. U.S. beekeepers have reported that as many as 50 percent of their bees have disappeared or died. This is a serious threat to our food supply because bees pollinate our fruits and many vegetables.
While there are a number of environmental factors contributing to the collapse of bee hives, one major contributor appears to be the use of the neonicotinoid class of pesticides, including clothianidin and thiamethoxam.
The European Union has placed a two-year ban on this class of pesticide to protect its bee population. The EPA in the U.S. has not yet done so. Do some research on the issue.