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September 20, 2020
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Beautifying Magnolia Park

  • Rotaract members from SSU Luka, Silvia and Nelsy trying to dig a hole in the clay for the M Park beautification. Photo by Irene Hilsendager

By: Irene Hilsendager
October 11, 2019

On the southeast side of Rohnert Park lies a large tract of land called Magnolia Park. This park is 13 acres in size holding tennis courts, a swimming pool, basketball courts and a soccer field.

Since all of the subdivisions in Rohnert Park are named after a letter in the alphabet, this section is called the M section. Within this plot lies a park that sorely was in need of color, clean up and beautification.

Saturday, October 4, the weather was perfect for a gathering of many organizations, family members and friends to learn how to plant and dig holes for flora to be part of a “Bees and butterfly” project. 

“Bees and butterflies” is a heart felt activity that Gina Belforte took on as her Rotary project for the year. Belforte is extremely busy being mayor of Rohnert Park but with great determination and blessing of the City of Rohnert Park, she is willing to lead the community to add pollinators to parks within the city.

Gina Belforte has a great plan and is worried about the colony collapse with a loss of over 60 percent of bees, the extinction of the Monarch butterflies and again a loss of 80 percent of Monarchs and a loss of over one billion birds in the last few decades. Gina was the natural to pick such a project. She has spent time in her own yard making it pollinator friendly and have seen tremendous changes in their own little eco system. They have had six families of bluebirds raised in their own birdhouse, as well as swallows raised in another and they enjoy watching the numerous birds forage for food. Frogs, lizards, snakes and a variety of butterflies and many honeybees have made their home in the Belforte yard. 

While a child, Gina was always intrigued by nature and when Earth Day was created it increased her awareness to what was happening to the environment.

Being Rotary President gave Gina the opportunity to start a pollinator project which will not only help the environment but also raise awareness in the city. Much more work is needed to help the most important contributors to the planet. In fact, the been was just recognized as the most important living being on the planet which is a critical element to the food source. How could we not do something to help save them?

Another one of Gina’s wish is to create pollinator hot spots around town which will not only benefit the pollinators but also beautify parts of the city. 

She is looking at doing a project on or near Earth Day 2020 in the city and are in the planning stages right now. The city used to do a big event at that time but now we must bring back many volunteers. 

The “Bee and butterflies” is to establish a critical pollinator habitat to help honeybees and butterflies thrive. 

One of the biggest contributors was Susan from Bees and Blooms. She volunteered her time looking at the sight and picking the right plants for all areas. This is one of the most critical aspects due to the time the plants get sunlight, getting plants that produce food almost year-round and ones that will grow well together with other plants. Our heartfelt thank you go to Susan as her work was invaluable to the group and to the environment.

Critical pollinators and wildlife habitat are disappearing in the United States and because of fire and disasters along the western coast, we as a community and with the help of sponsors and donors, can reverse this trend.

The City of Rohnert Park has been a great partner to undertake this design. About 10,000 square feet of space was planted and mulched with flats of flowers and bushes to be planted at the M Park with the help of Sonoma State University, SSU Jump, Sonoma State. Sustainability Club, The Rotary Club of Rohnert Park-Cotati, The Rotary Club of Rancho Cotati, Rotoracts, students from Credo High, Technology High School, Rancho High School, the Girl Scouts and many residents who just wanted to be part of something to enhance Rohnert Park.

While planting the many species of flora, you could see the bees, hummingbirds and butterflies sampling the nectar of pollinators that had just been planted.