Restoring native habitat

butterflyOver more than a decade, Great River Energy has re-established more than 200 acres of native habitat at our facilities and along transmission lines. This is just one example of Great River Energy’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

Benefits of native habitat

Choosing native plants and grasses for landscaping provides many benefits:

  • Native plants provide food and natural habitat for wildlife, insects and pollinators.
  • These plants are hardy and easy to maintain. Once established, they require no fertilizing, no irrigation and no mowing.
  • They are deep-rooting, which helps prevent soil erosion and recharge groundwater.

Our commitment to pollinator habitat

Great River Energy is actively making contributions to the nationwide effort to restore the native habitat that is vital to restoring healthy populations of pollinators such as birds, bees and butterflies. We are partnering with our members’ local schools to teach students about the importance of pollinator habitat. We also are bringing back nine acres of native habitat on our Elk River campus. Learn more

Importance of native pollinator habitat

Native habitat refers to the plants, grasses and trees which originated in an area before they were replaced with roadways, manicured lawns, crops and non-native gardens, or degraded for other reasons. “Pollinator friendly habitat” more specifically refers to those plants and flowers that pollinators need to eat, live and do their work. Recently there have been many reports of a steady decline in the population of pollinators. This decline is due in large part to the loss of the habitat they need to survive. The habitat that will be re-established on the Elk River campus will provide a home for pollinators in the area, and a great stop for migrating monarch butterflies on their way to Mexico where they winter.

Importance of honey bees, butterflies and other pollinators

Pollinators, including bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and bats, assist plants in reproduction by transferring pollen, allowing those plants to produce berries, nuts and other foods important to the survival of many species of wildlife and the human food supply. The ecological service pollinators provide is necessary for the reproduction of over 85 percent of the world’s flower plants, including more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species.

What we have done

Great River Energy has been re-establishing native habitat when we can for years, and we continue to partner with experts and seek opportunities for new projects. These projects support our commitment to investing in Minnesota communities and finding innovative solutions to manage costs. We have restored approximately 200 acres to native habitat.

Some of our projects include:

  • Current nine acres of native pollinator habitat on our Elk River campus.
  • Partnership with Laurentian Environmental Learning Center to plant pollinator friendly habitat along their solar array and in their interpretive center in fall 2016.
    • Great River Energy partnered with the Laurentian Environmental Learning Center
  • Elko New Market Transmission Line Project
    • Great River Energy partnered with Three Rivers Park District to restore pollinator friendly habitat along a transmission right of way in 2016.
  • Partnership with Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center
    • Great River Energy partnered with Wolf Ridge to plant pollinator friendly habitat along their solar array and in their interpretive center in fall 2015.
  • Elk River Terraces
    • In 2014, Great River Energy partnered with Prairie Restorations to restore pollinator friendly habitat.
  • City of Ramsey (Alpine Park) on GRE transmission line right of way
    • In 2013, Great River Energy worked with the City of Ramsey to plant pollinator friendly habitat along the right of way in Alpine Park.
  • Our headquarters building in Maple Grove, Minn.
    • In 2008, Great River Energy incorporated pollinator friendly habitat into its design and construction of its Maple Grove headquarters building.
  • Restoring prairie near our Lakefield Junction Station, Pleasant Valley Peaking Station and Cambridge Peaking Plant
    • In 2005, Great River Energy worked with Prairie Restorations to seed 80 acres near Lakefield Junction and 70 acres near Pleasant Valley.
  • Restoring prairie near our New Prague office
    • In 2004, Great River Energy partnered with Prairie Restorations to restore 2.5 acre into native habitat.

Read more about pollinators

Native habitat around transmission facilities

Where transmission facilities are located, native plantings offer important benefits for both the utility, the property owner and electric co-op members:

  • For the utility, native plantings make it easier to access the power lines for maintenance and emergency repairs. It also eliminates the risk of a tree contacting the power line, which is a risk to both safety and reliability.
  • For the property owner, the hardiness of the plants makes the landscaping easy to maintain.

Read more about native plants and grasses

Talk to the experts

If you want to make a contribution to restoring native habitat for wildlife and pollinators, or want to simply to reap the practical benefits of landscaping with prairie or pollinator habitat rather than traditional trees, grass or shrubs, there are many resources and experts available to help you. Here are just a few:

Other resources

There are many resources you can access online to learn about the benefits of native plantings and how to help create habitat for pollinators such as monarch butterflies. Here are only a few: