Great River Energy, Three Rivers Park District restore pollinator habitat

Bees will buzz and butterflies will flutter when the seeds planted by Prairie Restorations in two Three Rivers Park District parks along a Great River Energy transmission line begin to bloom.

Great River Energy, Three Rivers Park District and Prairie Restorations came together to install a 0.6 acre prairie planting along a new 115-kV transmission line, the Elko New Market and Cleary Lakes project, near Savage, Minn.

“As both a cooperative and transmission owner, Great River Energy has a unique opportunity to serve in our local communities,” said Craig Poorker, Great River Energy’s manager of land rights. “We do that through our environmental stewardship and our commitment to sustainability. Great River Energy has made numerous investments in pollinator projects, but this is the first time we’ve been able to leverage a private-public partnership with one of our transmission partners in planting pollinator friendly habitat.”

Paul Kortebein, senior forestry and horticulture manager for Three Rivers Park District, said that although utility construction does disrupt the terrain, Great River Energy took additional steps to mitigate their potential impacts.

“We applaud the effort of Great River Energy staff to minimize the impact and to reestablish native plants, such as using pollinator seed mix after their work was completed at Cleary Lake Regional Park and Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve,” Kortebein said.

Prairie Restorations, a native plant restoration company, planted a native grass mix, including big bluestem, Indian grass, prairie drop seed, and wildflower seed mix, which included black-eyed susan, goldenrod and purple prairie clover on May 17.

“It’s always great when different organizations can team up and work together to support a cause that benefits us all,” said John Pauley, project manager from Prairie Restorations. “Such was the case this week at the Three Rivers Park District planting. Great River Energy, Prairie Restorations and Three Rivers Park District came together to help provide butterflies, bees and other pollinators with new homes. Even small projects, like this one, can make a big difference.”

Pollinators, including bees and butterflies, are critical to our food supply, so restoring native habitat and adding pollinator friendly plants is important to the community.

“With evidence that native and managed pollinator populations are declining, Great River Energy has taken the initiative to partner with Three Rivers Park District to establish pollinators in small areas of the transmission line right of way along two TRPD properties in the metro area,” said Carole Schmidt, leader for Great River Energy’s transmission permitting and compliance department. “Pollinators support biodiversity, and are essential components of habitats that many species rely on for food or shelter.  The idea is to enhance open areas of the right of way with pollinators, in keeping with stewardship goals of both organizations.”