Pollinators such as bees and butterflies have made their home at Great River Energy’s Elk River campus. Three years ago, Great River Energy began preparations to plant prairie on its 9-acre plot of land outside of its Elk River campus facility. The Minnesota Department of Transportation and Elk River Energy City partnered with Great River Energy in the project.
This year’s National Pollinator Week – recognized from June 18-24 – marked a year since the prairie was planted. It is now blooming with new flowers, including black-eyed Susans, purple and white prairie clover and butterfly milkweed.
“The native pollinator habitat at Elk River is a great example Great River Energy’s commitment to sustainability,” said Erik Heinen, Great River Energy’s environmental administrator. “This habitat captures carbon, reduces runoff and snow drifts, and supports species of birds and insects that are critical for the pollination of many agricultural crops. It does all this while saving our members money and reducing the use of pesticides, water and fertilizer. It is a win for the environment, the community and for our member-owner cooperatives.”
Minnesota Native Landscapes, the planting vendor for the project, was brought on board to execute the seeding and maintenance.
“Typically, second-year prairie plantings are still establishing, and a wide variety of flowers and grasses begin to emerge,” said Nikki Brown, Minnesota Native Landscapes’ site manager. “However, depending on the site conditions and weed pressure, the site may be mowed, possibly multiple times, for weed control during flower blooming. This is an integral part of the prairie establishment and causes no harm to perennial native species, yet it can limit bloom times.”
Great River Energy has re-established approximately 200 acres of native habitat. Elk River’s Energy City plan includes a goal of 100 acres of new native plantings in the city by 2024.
“The City of Elk River is very fortunate to have Great River Energy in our community,” said Amanda Bednar, Elk River Energy City’s environmental coordinator. “Their commitment to sustainability by planting and maintaining this native pollinator habitat benefits everyone in Elk River. Native plants provide benefits for our pollinator species here, and we are excited for the future of this project.”
For more information about this project, visit greatriverenergy.com/elkriverbees.