San Elizario Moves to Protect Biodiversity, Increase Knowledge of Bees, Environment

Tuesday night, the San Elizario City Council unanimously passed an ordinance protecting three species of plants that are also of economic significance.

In addition to the vote, the community is set to host a week-long event, Bee Real to introduce community to unique scientific characteristics and opportunities for economic development.

Via a news release, officials with the city shared,”San Elizario sits in the Amazon of Bees, the city lies in the Chihuahuan Desert, which is hypothesized to harbor one of North America’s largest diversity of bees. And for the past year, the city government of San Elizario has been working with a team from Auburn University to protect this unique biodiversity, while sparking economic development.”

With the passing of a nuisance ordinance, which excludes three species of plants that are typically considered weeds but actually hold high scientific value, the city of San Eli took another step in preserving this region’s biodiversity.

Bashira Chowdhury, pollination ecologist with the Bee Biodiversity Initiative in Auburn University’s College of Agriculture said, “San Elizario essentially recognized what many in our field have known, that these plants are of critical economic importance, and that it can harness its biodiversity for economic progress. This is significant as it is one of the first protections of its kind in the country.”

Their move essentially protects Baileya multiradiata, a plant that may help reduce the need for some insecticides, Portulaca oleracea (verdolagas/purslane), which is a valuable food crop and the Sphaeralcea genus (globemallow) that serves to feed a variety of native bees and past melittologists have identified as an excellent pollinator plant for landscapes in the West.

In conjunction with the vote, the city’s first annual Bee Real, a week-long celebration with different events each day that serve to expose the community to the science lab in which they live and will provide a primer on careers that benefit from this characteristic.

“Though our target audience for this event is the citizens of San Elizario, we feel it is important the region is made aware of the steps we’re taking to provide a better quality of life in our community,” stated Mayor Antonio Araujo.

All events, including food, drinks and entertainment are free to the public.

Schedule of events include:

Monday, 9/3 – Bee Real Community Dinner

Tuesday, 9/4 – Tea Tuesday

Wednesday, 9/5 – The Science of Bee Real

Thursday, 9/6 – Social Entrepreneurship

Friday, 9/7 – Bee Real in the Historic District

Saturday, 9/8 – Wild San Eli at Bee Real

For more information on Bee Real, visit the city’s website.