Bees: Minn. Legislature Considers Subsidies for Homeowners who Convert Lawns to Clover and Wildflowers

Greg Stanley reported recently at the Minneapolis Star Tribune Online that, “Homeowners who replace traditional lawns with wildflowers, clovers and native grasses in an effort to slow the collapse of state’s bee population could soon get assistance from the state of Minnesota.

“Under a bill introduced by Rep. Kelly Morrison, DFL-Deephaven, the state would set aside $2 million over the next three years to help pay for lawn conversions by interested homeowners, schools and cities. The plan could help replenish food sources for pollinators of all kinds but will specifically aim at saving the rusty patched bumblebee, a fat and fuzzy species on the brink of extinction that seems to be making its final stand in the cityscapes and suburban areas of the Twin Cities, Milwaukee and Chicago.

“The program would cover up to 75 percent of the cost of each project, and more for conversion in areas with a ‘high potential’ to support the struggling rusty patched bees.”

Mr. Stanley noted that, “The state has run similar programs for farmers in rural areas for years, but this would mark the first effort to bring the subsidies to individual homeowners and, importantly, to cities and suburbs where many types of bees are surviving.”

The Star Tribune article added that, “The lawn subsidy was one of the most widely supported recommendations to come out of a pollinator task force set up by former Gov. Mark Dayton, which was made up of environmental advocates, scientists, farmers, food processors and other stakeholders.

“‘I think we could all see there is a need to feed bees all across the state,’ said Erin Rupp, founder and executive director of Pollinate Minnesota.”

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