In 2016, Minnesota made national history by setting a new standard for protecting bees and other pollinators. You may recall that at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair, Governor Dayton’s Administration announced an Executive Order to protect pollinators that outlines eight key actions that the state of Minnesota is tasked with. This Executive Order came at the heels of a three-year neonicotinoid study and review completed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. We have now begun the 2017 Legislative Session, and there will undoubtedly be discussion of some aspects of the Executive Order. Regulations and guidance on protecting pollinators can be complicated because multiple agencies and industries are involved, but we are excited by Minnesota’s pledge to tackle this challenge constructively.
In case you missed it, or in case you’re like me and you get lost in all the “whereas’s” and “Hereby’s” in an Executive Order, here are the main points of Governor Dayton’s Executive Order on Pollinators (note: this is my wording, for clarity and simplicity. The actual wording can be found here):
- The Minnesota Department of Agriculture shall immediately begin implementing the actions set out by their neonicotinoid review. These actions include requiring an official verification of need by anyone wishing to use neonicotinoid pesticides, and reviewing and enforcing better labeling of neonicotinoid pesticides.
- The Environmental Quality Board shall convene Minnesota agency leadership to implement this Executive Order.
- A 15-member Governor’s Committee on Pollinator Protection shall be created to advise the Governor’s Administration and relevant agencies and intra-agency efforts on pollinator practices and programs.
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) shall develop a strategy to minimize pesticide use on DNR-administered public lands. The DNR shall also develop a strategy to maximize restoration of pollinator habitat on public lands they administer.
- Minnesota’s Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) shall direct work to restore pollinator habitat by incorporating pollinator habitat into all BWSR programs, from wetland protection to conservation easements.
- Minnesota Department of Transportation shall aim to protect and enhance pollinator habitat along state-owned roadways.
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency shall create and/or enhance pollinator habitat on closed landfills.
- The grounds of the State Capitol Complex and other state-owned buildings shall be managed to enhance pollinator health. This means not ever using neonicotinoids and planting pollinator-friendly plants.
I’m happy to report that objective number three, which designates the establishment of a Committee on Pollinator Protection, has been accomplished. This committee convened for the first time just before the holidays and engaged in a very fruitful discussion of goals, obstacles, and the scope of their work.
Governor Dayton’s efforts can bring Minnesota to the top of the field of state pollinator protection efforts, but Minnesotans like you are still needed to ensure that local governments and residential areas are also pollinator-friendly. If your city doesn’t have a resolution to support pollinators yet, you can bring this to their attention and offer examples of pollinator resolutions. If you’d like to plant more pollinator habitat in your yard, check out the many resources and plant lists offered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and then talk with your parks department or city council member about your city’s planting plans. Finally, for more information on neonicotinoid pesticides check out the Department of Natural Resources’ page on pollinators and scroll down to “Where can I learn more about neonicotinoid pesticides?”
For more, feel free to email me at Julie@conservationminnesota.org.