We’ve all been there – coasting on fumes, fretting about whether we’ll make it to the next gas station. Now, think of the Monarch butterfly. This delicate creature makes a 3,000-mile, annual trek from Canada to its winter home in Mexico. Along its path, the creatures are looking for food, but like the too-distant gas station analogy, they’re struggling to find refueling stations along their way.
Xcel Energy has been working to help monarchs and other pollinators thrive by creating healthy places for them to prosper. We currently have more than 1,300 acres of active and potential pollinator habitat in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
In honor of National Pollinator Week, we held special events on June 19 as we put the final touches on two new pollinator habitats in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We partnered with the City of Burnsville to plant three acres of native prairie under our transmission lines, on a portion of the area where a new natural gas pipeline was just installed. We are also restoring native habitat next to our company headquarters in Eau Claire. We were pleased to be joined at the events with Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and children from the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center to assist in planting. Other special guests included Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, University of Minnesota Bee Lab expert Dr. Marla Spivak, and Missy Sparrow with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
We are honored to join forces with other environmentally-conscious organizations and community partners to restore prairies on Xcel Energy-owned properties. Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Wildlife Program, we recently planted 40 acres of pollinator habitat around our new substation in Minot, North Dakota. We have several other plantings scheduled to support our pollinator efforts in Minnesota and Wisconsin this year on our transmission line right of way, outside substations, our offices and on a solar property.
Pollinator concerns are bringing more groups together to find solutions that are broader than just pollinators. We need to be good stewards of the land. We’re very proud of the way we’ve managed our properties to support the natural ecosystem and the surrounding community to everyone’s benefit.
You might not realize that about 75 percent of the world’s food crops depend, at least in part, on pollination. With that in mind, Xcel Energy and the contractors we employ do not use chemicals that are harmful to beneficial insects in our Vegetation Management practices to control brush, trees and weeds on our rights-of-way and properties. This includes not using neonicotinoids, which is of special concern to people working to improve bee populations.
We are committed to giving back to the environment and the communities we serve. Every small step counts. And our goal with the pollinator initiative is not only to help the monarch butterfly make the yearly journey home, but to help the endangered rusty patched bumble bee, birds, and other small creatures who need us just as much as we need them.