Minnesotans seem to be naturalists by, well, nature. This makes sense since we have a variety of wildlife and natural areas. Working in the East Metro I’ve really been able to see this passion for our Great Outdoors through citizen involvement protecting pollinators.
While many news stories have addressed the health of bee populations in recent months, I know some folks may not know about the amazing variety of bee species and non-bee pollinators we need to protect and why they are important. Pollinator discussion often focuses on the honeybee, but did you know that Minnesota is home to 400 different species of wild bees? And in Minnesota, it’s about so much more than bees – birds and other insects, like the Monarch butterfly, play an important part as well. These pollinators are crucial for our state’s must valuable crops, like strawberries, squash, and apples. Minnesota’s apple industry alone earns our state $11.8 million each year. Those earnings would not be possible without pollinators. There are many wonderful websites and organizations with information on pollinators. One of the easiest I’ve found to work with is the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources pollinator page.
Minnesotans from across the state have banded together to protect bees, butterflies and the variety of pollinators found in our backyards. As a result, six Minnesota cities have passed pollinator friendly resolutions in an effort to do their part to protect these precious species. These include Shorewood, Lake Elmo, South St. Paul, Stillwater, St. Louis Park, and Minneapolis. Additionally, Maplewood, Stillwater Township, Andover, Mahtomedi, and White Bear Lake are all working to pass pollinator resolutions within the next year! Minnesota is truly a leader. Throughout the rest of the country only four other cities have passed resolutions similar to ours in Minnesota.
These local actions are a fantastic demonstration of city leadership on conservation issues. However, this success wouldn’t be possible to replicate without community support. For example, in Stillwater there are many local pollinator groups, such as the Pollinator Friendly Alliance, which designed and helped pass the city’s “Pollinator Safe” resolution in April of 2015. Their resolution states that Stillwater will ask city lawn care contractors to cease using harmful pesticides on city property. It also states that Stillwater will send copies of their resolution to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Governor Mark Dayton, State Representatives and Senators, U.S. Representatives and Senators, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Stillwater community members clearly came together to create an impactful, local solution to the pollinator problem.
Would you like to help your city pass a pollinator resolution or work with your local community to ensure native plants are abundant? I’d love to help you get started! Email me at here.