Fall 2019 Newsletter: Minnesota Invests in Protecting Pollinators

The state now has an official state bee and a program to help it and other pollinators thrive.


In 1988, Minnesota voters approved the creation of the Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is supported by 40% of the Minnesota State Lottery net proceeds. The other 60% are deposited in the state’s general fund. The Trust Fund is required by law to be used on activities that protect, conserve, preserve and enhance the state’s air, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources. Projects that receive funding are recommended by the Legislator-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources and approved by the Minnesota legislature and the Governor. During the past legislative session, the Minnesota legislature approved about $64 million in funding for 65 projects.  

Lawn to Legumes

One of the projects approved for Trust Fund support during the 2019 legislative session is Lawns to Legumes—introduced as a bill by Rep. Kelly Morrison and administered by the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources (BWSR). The goal is to help residential landowners convert traditional turfgrass lawns to pollinator friendly lawns composed of native grasses, forbs and legumes. BWSR will partner with local conservation organizations on projects starting in the spring and summer 2020. Learn more from BWSR about Lawns to Legumes.

Rusty Patched Bumblebee

Lawns to Legumes will help residents create new habitat for the federally endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee whose populations nationwide have dropped 87% in the last 20 years. The US Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that the Rusty Patched is present in just 0.1% of its historical range. In Minnesota, many of the areas where the Rusty Patched is likely to live are urban and suburban communities.