Conserving the Nature of America
Habitat Restoration Project Provides Sanctuary to Pollinators
Restoring Urban Gardens at The Grotto

April 14, 2017


Jane Chorazy, Publica Affairs Specialist USFWS
(503) 231-2251

Planting over 400 native plants to attract pollinators and support urban wildlife

Pollinator garden enhancement outside the Meditation Chapel at the Grotto in N.E. Portland Credit: Jane Chorazy / USFWS

PORTLAND, Ore. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Faith Based Organizations have long recognized the importance of protecting our environment and the plants and animals over which man has domain.  Under the President’s Faith Based Initiatives and the Service’s Connected Constituency program, we are working together to create healthy habitats for people and wildlife, while sharing the important message that pollinators are in trouble and that all of us need to work together to help.

The National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother, also known as “The Grotto”, is a Catholic outdoor shrine and sanctuary located in the heart of Portland, Oregon.   Set in a sixty-two acre urban forest, the Grotto’s award winning botanical gardens offer visitors a tranquil walk in the woods while they visit the Stations of the Cross.  The beautiful main chapel offers regular Sunday services supported by Our Lady of Lavang Parish and the upper gardens boast a Meditation Chapel with a 180 degree view of the Columbia River Gorge.

“This fantastic partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Service has enabled us to restore damaged garden plots, remove invasive species and enlighten our visitors to the plight of butterflies, bees and bats.” said Mark Combelic, the Grotto’s Shrine Facilities Manager.  “The benefits of this collaboration have proved invaluable to the gardens, the people and to the urban wildlife that call our gardens ‘home’.”

The Grotto is a private Faith Based Organization run by the Servites and managed as a major Portland tourist attraction and church for over 90 years.  Serving tens of thousands of visitors every year, the beautiful urban green space contains a variety of native trees, shrubs and plants within the Portland-metro area that provide quality habitat potential for birds and pollinators.

In September of 2016, the Service partnered with Bosky Dell Natives, a native plant nursery, and the East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District to restore sun damaged terrain adjacent to the sculptured water feature in the upper gardens to plant more than 400 native plants and shrubs that will attract pollinators to the native gardens.  We worked directly with the Grotto staff to focus on natural habitat management, to include restoring sections of the grounds with native plants to attract a variety of pollinators while eliminating the use of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides that contribute to the decline of bee populations and affect downstream watersheds.

“As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling.”  -- Pope Francis  2015

The Service is proud to partner with the Grotto to build and preserve this "beautiful garden," and appreciates the efforts of all who provide habitat and sanctuary for pollinators.   One person can envision and idea, but a community can put it into action and change the world.

Learn more about this project from USFWS

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