North Branch pursues pollinator friendly status

If Tom Anderson and members of the local Monarch Strategy Group are successful, perhaps one day people will be coming to the city to experience myriad of monarchs.
Anderson talked to the North Branch City Council March 14 with two ideas in mind: have the council pursue pollinator-friendly status for the city and eventually have the city dubbed the Monarch Capital of Minnesota.
“(Native pollinators) have been making a lot of news lately because pollinators around the world are decreasing rather rapidly,” he said. “We get a third of our food that we grow in this country due to the free services of pollinating insects. It’s alarming the rapid demise of some of these species, particularly with bees and some of the butterflies.”
Anderson said there are already sections of the city that are pollinator friendly.
“Why not have it as a pollinator-friendly city?” he asked. “Why not be so bold as to declare North Branch as the monarch capital of Minnesota? I think we reasonably could. It means we can’t declare ourselves the monarch capital and sit there and do nothing. We have a fair amount of monarch habitat here in North Branch. There’s 1,000 acres of it that were planted last year under the solar gardens. We have the bike corridor going through town, which has a lot of species out there. I think we already have the groundwork to make that declaration. We can even go further.”
The council, by consensus, unanimously approved his request to pursue the pollinator friendly status. Council Member Robert Canada said labeling North Branch as the Monarch Capital of Minnesota might take some work, however.
“You’ve got the script,” he said. “You just need to identify items here in North Branch to make it the monarch capital of the state,” he said. “If you could narrow it down, you’d have a gem.”
North Branch Mayor Kirsten Hagen-Kennedy said she talked to Public Works Director Shawn Williams about having more native plantings in the city, and he told her his department is all for the idea.
“He said as long as we don’t have to plant it, we do nothing — it comes back every year, we don’t have to mow it,” she said. “It is no care for the city and actually enhances the area.”
She also noted the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency is interested in supporting pollinator-friendly tracts of land in North Branch and has already given seeds to the city to help jump-start the process.

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