Pollinator Habitat Blooming around Spring Lake
Updated: Jun 3
Last year, the Scott SWCD sent out a call to action with new grant funds for planting pollinator habitat in urban areas. And last year, the neighbors of Vergus Avenue around Spring Lake rose to the occasion, pledging to add beauty, stability, and habitat protection.
The Scott SWCD, Scott Watershed Management Organization, Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District, and the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District have all partnered together and were awarded funds from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) for the Lawns to Legumes program. The program’s primary goal is to restore critical habitat for the Rusty Patched Bumblebee and other threatened pollinator species by providing homeowners with technical and financial assistance for pollinator plantings.
Why the Rusty Patched Bumblebee?
The Rusty Patched is Minnesota’s state bee, and the first bumblebee to be placed on the endangered species list.
Scott SWCD Natural Resource Specialist, and Lawns to Legumes coordinator, Meghan Darley elaborates, “the Rusty Patched Bumblebee has seen a remarkable population decline over the last decade, and part of the reason for it is the loss of critical pollinator habitat. Contemporary turf grass lawns are taking away space that previously held wildflowers and prairie grass.”
The Lawns to Legumes program wants to bring habitat back and educate homeowners in the process by means of a “Demonstration Neighborhood”, or rather, a series of pollinator plantings in close enough proximity of each other so that each connects and serves a greater reach for pollinators like the Rusty Patched.
“The area around Spring Lake has documented evidence of Rusty Patched Bumblebees nesting and pollinating. It’s an area we want to establish more pollinator habitat in since the bees already want to make it their home” Darley comments.
Enter: Residents of Spring Lake
For the residents of Spring Lake, adding pollinator plantings was an easy fit. Working with Scott SWCD and PLSLWD, residents all around the lake have been adding pollinator habitat through the instillation native wildflowers in raingardens and lakeshore plantings for years. The Scott SWCD and PLSLWD have assisted four different landowners with the instillation of five native plantings including lakeshore restorations and raingardens. The plantings total 610sq ft of new native habitat, and 132 linear feet of shoreline stabilization.
In addition to the projects installed with the Scott SWCD, Spring Lake residents have also added pollinator habitat on their own! Lakeshore resident and Demonstration Neighborhood Coordinator, Christian Morkeberg, has transformed his yard into a beautiful pollinator sanctuary of wildflowers and grasses.
Christian is excited to add even more pollinator habitat with this program and wants his fellow neighbors to know how easy and beautiful these plantings are. “As we add pollinator habitat around the lake, we’re also adding beauty, stability, and wildlife with plants that are naturally supposed to be here,” he says.
Since he’s installed his various projects, he’s also seen a significant reduction in runoff from his lot after large rain events, and noticed how much easier his lawn maintenance has been. “After a while, the plants take care of themselves,” he says.
When the Scott SWCD first put out the call for neighborhoods interested in banning together to form a demonstration neighborhood, residents from Vergus Avenue immediately responded with their interest. Within months, the SWCD office heard from five neighbors who are planning to install a variety of projects including lakeshore buffers, pollinator pocket plantings, and raingardens.
Spring Lake residents Sandy and Greg Sauve were among the first to join the Demonstration Neighborhood. As longtime residents, they’ve been pioneers in bringing natural spaces back to the lake.
“We have watched the transformation of the Morkeberg’s gardens and are super excited to be partnering with our neighbors and Scott SWCD as we plan and plant our pollinator garden.” Sandy says. “Our mission is to save the bees as well as ensure that we are doing what we can to take care of our land and water.”
Sandy is an active member in the Spring Lake Association, and plans to add areas of pollinator meadow to her yard for her contribution to the Demonstration Neighborhood.
“In a year full of isolation and distancing, it was inspiring to witness the partnership among these neighbors. The people around Spring Lake have a strong bond not only with the lake, but with each other,” Darley observes.
The pollinator plantings will be installed this spring and summer. Keep an eye out for Lawns to Legumes signs, and thank your neighbors for helping to protect endangered species and for planting locally.
How can I be involved?
Support from Lawns to Legumes doesn’t stop with just the demonstration neighborhood, the Scott SWCD has funds available for individual landowners around Spring Lake to install pocket plantings around their home. Types of plantings can include mailbox plantings, boulevard planting, raingardens, lakeshore plantings, and more.
Projects are varied and customizable for whatever outdoor space you have, and Scott SWCD technicians are available to help. Native plant kits specially catered to Rusty Patched Bumblebees can be purchased at the Scott SWCD Native Plant Sale in May. Visit scottswcdtrees.com for updated inventory and sale details.
For more information about different types of pollinator plantings, or for more information on the Lawns to Legumes program, visit http://bwsr.state.mn.us/l2l.
If you or someone you know has interest in participating in this program and utilizing Lawns to Legumes funds, please contact our office at 952-492-5425.