Thursday's House Joint Resolution 1029 is like honey to the bees of those into agriculture, hive tending and butterfly watching.
Sponsored by Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder, and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, the bill designates Interstate 76 from Mile Marker 1 to Mile Marker 183 from Jefferson to Sedgewick counties, as the Colorado Pollinator Highway.
Becker, whose family raises citrus in Florida, explained to the chamber how vital bees and butterflies are to pollination, which is vital to agriculture and horticulture.
"The importance to agriculture everywhere is huge if we don't take care of our pollinators," she said on the House floor Thursday morning.
Legislators lined up after her to speak in support, and make bee jokes. Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Denver, said she drives I-76 every day, then played "Flight of the Bumble Bee" on her phone and held it to the microphone in the House speaker's well.
The resolution calls on the Colorado Department of Transportation to accept gifts, grants or donations to put signs and work with local governments manage vegetation to provide nesting, resting and feeding for honey bees and butterflies.
The bill recognizes that bees and butterflies are major workers in helping pollenate crops.
"Pollinators like bees and butterflies are vital to our Nation's economy, food security and environmental health," said the People and Pollinators Action Network, which took up residence with the bees at the Capitol Thursday. "Honeybee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to our agricultural crops each year, and provides the backbone to ensuring our diets are plentiful and varied.
"Unfortunately, pollinator populations have been declining rapidly due to multiple stressors. Among these stressors is habitat loss and fragmentation and a lack of availability of forage. A diverse and thriving pollinator population supports agriculture and a diverse ecosystem and there are simple tools we can engage to expand pollinator habitat in Colorado. One area that provides an ideal opportunity is our state roadways and how we manage them."
The People and Pollinator Action Network, the Butterfly Pavilion, the Colorado State Beekeepers Association and the Colorado Native Plant Society set up live exhibits in the Capitol before the House and Senate gaveled in at 9 Thursday morning.