By Justin Sink - 06/20/14 11:58 AM EDT
President Obama is hoping his latest executive action will create lots of buzz.
Obama signed a presidential memorandum on Friday ordering the federal government to develop a plan for protecting pollinators such as honey bees, butterflies, birds and bats in response to mounting concerns about the impact of dwindling populations on American crops.
According to the White House, the number of bee colonies in the United States has declined from 6 million in 1947 to 2.5 million today. Some crops, including almonds, rely almost exclusively on pollination from honeybees, and honeybee pollination alone is responsible for $15 billion in value every year.
Although scientists can't fully explain why bee colonies are dying off, a combination of stressors, including the loss of their natural habitats and exposure to certain pesticides, is thought to be responsible.
Under the president's order, the government will establish a new task force tasked with developing a "coordinated research action plan" to help better understand and prevent the loss of pollinating species.
Government agencies will also be tasked with developing plans to enhance habitats for pollinating species on federal lands. And agencies will partner with local governments, farmers, and the business community in a bid to increase the quality and availability of available habitats for the species.
Additionally, the president has requested $50 million in his 2015 budget for the Department of Agriculture to help study and prevent pollinator loss.
"Given the breadth, severity, and persistence of pollinator losses, it is critical to expand federal efforts and take new steps to reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels," Obama said. "These steps should include the development of new public-private partnerships and increased citizen engagement."