Cottage Grove steps up for Pollinators under power lines

Posted 6/16/21

Parts of North American wildlife are at risk. One instance of this is that the continental population of birds is decreasing. The species that are in decline are not limited to those that are …

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Cottage Grove steps up for Pollinators under power lines


Parts of North American wildlife are at risk. One instance of this is that the continental population of birds is decreasing. The species that are in decline are not limited to those that are endangered. Common birds are experiencing population loss as well. A team of researchers geographically spanning from the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies in Colorado to the Canadian Wildlife Service in Ontario invested roughly 50 years into recording the dwindle. They monitored the population alterations of 529 types of birds in the continental United States and Canada. A variety of bird surveys, counts, and a system of 143 NEXRAD radars facilitated this mission. By October 4, 2019, Science Mag was able to release a five-page report entitled, “Decline of the North American avifauna.” This journal summarized the researchers’ discoveries. On page 1, it concluded, “Results from long-term surveys, accounting for both increasing and declining species, reveal a net loss in total abundance of 2.9 billion [95% credible interval (CI) = 2.7–3.1 billion] birds across almost all biomes, a reduction of 29% (95% CIs = 27–30%) since 1970…”

Jillian Mock is a freelance science journalist who has contributed to The New York Times Climate, Texas Climate News, and Popular Science. When Mock interpreted Science Mag’s bird study for Audubon News, she noted, “-that’s more than 1 in 4 birds that have disappeared from the landscape in a mere half a century.”

As North American birds have been minimizing in abundance, the pollinator community likewise suffered. The Executive Director of the Xerces Society, Scott Hoffman Black, published an article in December of 2019 entitled, “Insect Apocalypse?” In this piece, Black cited studies to prove that six-legged bugs were disappearing. He wrote, “The evidence is clear that we are losing insects at an alarming rate. Among bumble bees, 28 percent of species in North America are considered threatened…Assessments in North America show similar trends [compared to European trends]: NatureServe assessed 636 butterfly species in the United States and Canada and found 19 percent at risk of extinction.”

There is an explanation behind the reduction of pollinators and birds in North America. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) claims that habitat loss is “the primary threat to the survival of wildlife in the United States.”

Habitat loss appears in three different forms, according to the NWF. First of all, habitat destruction occurs when activities such as deforestation and mowing are carried out. Next, habitat fragmentation is enabled through the development of roads and dams. These practices can disrupt usual migration routes and separate a species from the rest of its kind. Thirdly, herbicides and pesticides can lead to habitat degradation. The NWF further defines the third form of habitat loss on their official website: “Pollution, invasive species, and disruption of ecosystem processes (such as changing the intensity of fires in an ecosystem) are some of the ways habitats can become so degraded, they no longer support native wildlife.”

Although pollinators, birds, and habitats are diminishing on a continental scale, the City of Cottage Grove has noticed an opportunity to be a part of a solution. The Kingston Park Press Release was published on June 5. It reveals that a belt of land from Cottage Grove Trailway Corridor to 80th Street is being “underutilized.” “The 2.5 mile trail links Cottage Grove Trailway Corridor to 80th Street underneath a large-scale Xcel power line. Currently, Xcel manages the 40 acres with herbicides and mowing,” affirms the press release.

Zac Dockter is the City of Cottage Grove Parks and Recreation Director. He possesses an “ambitious goal” for the area. Dockter desires to transform all of the landscaping that surrounds the path into a native prairie.

This wish prompted the City of Cottage Grove and nearby residents to piece together a five year plan. Once half of a decade passes, Cottage Grove will have 40 additional acres of “thriving habitat for native species” and a “beautiful” landscape that park attendees can admire.

To progress the five year plan, the City of Cottage Grove is hosting a planting event with the Pollinator Friendly Alliance. The Wildflower Planting for Pollinators will occur on June 13 from 10am to 1pm at Kingston Park (9195 75th St S). The community is encouraged to be present there. A garden of 300+ native wildflowers will be established on either side of the biking and walking trailhead. To register for the activity without cost, one can navigate to In the case of rain, the Pollinator Friendly Alliance promised to reschedule the occasion.

The impact of this local event could potentially improve environments beyond Cottage Grove’s. Towards the conclusion of the Kingston Park Press Release, it read, “…we are calling on Xcel to reimagine the land under their power lines and over pipelines-refuges for pollinators, birds and wildlife with a potential to add a thousand miles of biodiverse habitat that native species so desperately need.”

Will readers “be a part of something BEE-utiful” this Sunday, as the Pollinator Friendly Alliance invites them to?