City to set goals for creating pollinator habitat

MARSHALL — Animals like bees, butterflies and birds play a crucial role in the environment by pollinating plants. Now, the city of Marshall will be looking at ways to help pollinators as part of its participation in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program.

The Marshall City Council approved a resolution last week setting goals to develop areas of pollinator habitat within the city. The resolution calls for a goal of at least 5% of city-owned green space to be developed into pollinator habitat, as well as looking for public-private partnerships to help improve or create habitat.

Amanda Beckler, Marshall’s GreenStep coordinator, said the resolution would support Marshall’s goals as a GreenStep City. Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a voluntary program for cities to help improve their sustainability and quality of life. This summer, Marshall reached Step 4 and Step 5, the highest levels of the program, Beckler said.

Beckler presented the council with a resolution to help protect areas in Marshall where pollinators can feed and live. Habitat loss is threatening many pollinators, including the monarch butterfly, she said. Monarch populations have gone down by up to 80% over the past 30 years, Beckler said.

The resolution Beckler presented to the council called for identifying existing pockets of pollinator habitat in Marshall, as well as setting a goal to develop pollinator habitat in city-owned green space. Those spaces include city parks, as well as areas along recreational trails.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, council members didn’t discuss whether specific city properties could be sites for pollinator habitat. However, earlier in the day Beckler told the Independent there were some areas that might work as potential pilot sites. Examples included a large grassy area at Victory Park (Wayside Rest), areas along the Redwood River diversion channel, or near the recreational trails at the northeast edge of Marshall, she said.

Other parts of the resolution called for public education about protecting pollinators, and looking for partnerships to create pollinator habitat.

Council members, including Craig Schafer and John DeCramer, said there could also be opportunities for Marshall residents to put pollinator-friendly plants and trees on their own properties.

“I think there’s actually quite a bit that’s been done with that,” Schafer said.

Beckler said she had talked to the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources about its “Lawns to Legumes” program. The program offers resources, including grants, to help people incorporate pollinator-friendly native plants into their lawns.

City Administrator Sharon Hanson said one of the things the city would also need to work on to help support the resolution would be examining the city ordinances on mowing requirements. More flexible language on mowing could help protect pollinator habitat

Counicl member James Lozinski said public campaigns like “No Mow May” have also helped raise awareness of the need to support pollinators early in the growing season when they’re still coming out of hibernation.

“That’s become a big push for a lot of cities in Minnesota,” Lozinski said.

Council members voted to approve the resolution to improve pollinator habitat in Marshall.


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