North Oaks was declared a pollinator-friendly city by the City Council at its July 11 meeting, endorsing pollinator protection and promoting pollinator habitat. The Pollinator Resolution was spearheaded by resident Susan Bornstein, who enlisted a group of University of Minnesota undergraduate students to draft the resolution. After some minor edits by the Natural Resources Commission, the resolution appeared before the City Council and received a unanimous endorsement. Erin Rupp, from Pollinate Minnesota, helped present the resolution to the council.
A variety of insects are considered pollinators including bees, butterflies, moths, flies and beetles. The ruby-throated hummingbird is also considered an important pollinator. Pollination is essential for healthy ecosystems. Most plants depend on pollinators for seed production. Insects and the plants they pollinate form the foundation of the food chain for birds and other wildlife, as well as humans. Honeybees and native pollinators contribute millions of dollars to our state’s agricultural economy. In fact, one in three bites of food that we eat is made possible by pollinators!
The resolution highlighted many organizations within the City that are already champions of pollinators and their habitat. For example, the North Oaks Home Owners’ Association (NOHOA), with the help of volunteers, successfully converted approximately 2,000 square feet of Lake Gilfillan shoreline into pollinator habitat. Additionally, NOHOA’s shoreline restoration projects emphasize the use of a wide variety of native pollinator-friendly plants. Furthermore, NOHOA is developing a pollinator habitat (nearly 77,000 square feet) on passive recreation property near the main entrance of North Oaks and the buckthorn removal at the 3.4-acre Mary Hill Park has allowed flowering plants to once again flourish in the sunny areas of the site and more pollinator-friendly plants will be added to the site over time. And, finally, except for tick habitats, NOHOA tries to minimize the use of insecticides or herbicides on its properties and instead emphasizes landscape modification strategies for tick management such as more frequent mowing of its recreation land and trail systems.
The North Oaks Garden Club, Golf Club and Hill Farm Historical Society are also already protecting and promoting pollinators. The North Oaks Garden Club only uses vendors who do not use neonicotinoids (highly toxic to bees) on their annuals, vegetables and herbs sold at the annual plant sale, and they distribute Mammoth sunflower seeds at their annual plant sale, encouraging residents to grow them, thereby providing food for pollinators. The North Oaks Golf Club maintains native plants, including wildflowers, on their property, implements integrated pest management techniques when pests are encountered and uses licensed pesticide applicators who are trained to reduce exposure to non-target species, specifically foraging bees. The North Oaks Golf Club is participating in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. The Hill Farm Historical Society maintains a one-acre prairie on their six-acre site. They manage approximately 300 feet of shoreline on Pleasant Lake.
The Natural Resources Commission has implemented a Conservation Award Program that recognizes residents and organizations for excellence in habitat management and wildlife conservation on their property. One category of the award program is for best practices in pollinator conservation. All of the above projects would qualify for an award.
Even though many great projects are happening in North Oaks, there is still progress to be made. By passing the Pollinator Resolution, the City of North Oaks urges all property owners, residents, businesses, institutions and neighborhoods to assist pollinators by adopting practices including:
• Committing to avoid using pesticides, including systemic insecticides, on their property
• Avoid planting flowering plants that have been treated with systemic insecticides
• Discontinuing the sale of pesticides and plants that are treated with systemic insecticides
• Incorporating more pollinator forage into their property
• Refraining from treating lawns with pesticides
The City of North Oaks Natural Resources Commission and NOHOA will continue to support efforts to educate the broader community about the importance of creating and maintaining pollinator-friendly habitat. In future issues of the North Oaks News, you will see examples of pollinator projects that are happening around the city. Will one of those projects belong to you?
—Kate Winsor, Natural Resources Commissio