Making a buzz for pollinators

Humble bees, butterflies and other bugs pollinate more than 70% of the world’s crops. Great River Energy and other electric cooperatives are among the many organizations that have focused on the plight of these pollinators and are working to re-establish their native habitat.

National Pollinator Week, recognized from June 21 to June 27, is an annual event celebrated internationally in support of pollinator health.

Great River Energy has restored more than 200 acres of native habitat over the years, including a pollinator-friendly prairie in Elk River, which was planted in 2016.

“Great River Energy demonstrates its leadership in sustainability through solid environmental policies and practices,” said Erik Heinen, Great River Energy’s environmental and sustainability administrator. “The pollinator effort is a great collaboration among employees and leaders that demonstrates our commitment to the environment.”

Great River Energy has restored more than 200 acres of native habitat over the years. A team of employees continuously looks for ways to establish prairie and pollinator-friendly habitat along transmission lines, near substations and power plants, and on land where the cooperative has facilities. The group first collaborated on the pollinator-friendly prairie in Elk River, which was planted in 2016.

That prairie has native wildflowers that will bloom at different times throughout the season. Travelers along Highway 10 will can see the prairie changing colors from spring to fall as many of the native grasses that have been establishing and developing for the first few growing seasons become more noticeable.

Great River Energy also manages the vegetation under its transmission right of ways using integrated vegetation management. This approach encourages the establishment of diverse vegetation that supports pollinators and, in many cases, is more cost-effective than traditional approaches.