Make Way for Pollinators: An Update on our Native Restoration Project

By Steve Poppe, Sr. Horticulture Scientist

September 2019

The 17-acres between the Pomme de Terre Overlook and the Pomme de Terre City Park continues to take shape into a native prairie site. All trees and unwanted shrubs have been removed, leaving behind a barren-looking landscape. This step, however, is key! 

Native restorationEffective site preparation is essential to getting our pollinator restoration project off to a good start.

Prairie Restorations, Inc. of Princeton, MN has been coordinating the native plant restoration and management in this project area.  

The first application of recommended herbicides was applied in May 2019 to eradicate/control undesirable species including smooth brome, quack grass, Canada goldenrod, stinging nettle, reed canary grass, and crown vetch and other significant invasive species with extensive rhizomes that are found onsite in varying densities. 

A second herbicide application was applied in June to areas that were missed by the first application.  A third application was applied in late July with a different herbicide to control unwanted woody plant material.  In late August a mowing took place to clean up the dead vegetation followed by a light disking in early September. 

One of our collaborators on the project, Kristin Lamberty, from the University of Minnesota Morris Computer Science Department, along with two of her students, are developing interactive and educational materials to go along with the restoration site.  

The focus of their work is to create a participatory simulation and set of activities that can be used in both formal and informal learning environments for people to learn about pollinators and the impact of land use, such as the restored prairie area. Taking part in the simulation should give participants a sense of the diversity of pollinators in Minnesota with a focus on the hundreds of types of bees we have here. In particular they want to help people understand that there are lots of types of bees in Minnesota, most bees are not social, many bees have nesting habits that are not like those of honeybees, different kinds of bees are active at different times of the season, and having a diversity of plant life benefits pollinators. 

They are currently planning a participatory simulation that utilizes personal electronic smart devices (such as phones or tablets) along with a large display (projector and screen) to help coordinate the activities. They envision that each participant will “be a bee” and move about in the shared space visiting flowers to gather nectar and pollen. Participants will explore several scenarios with varying levels of diversity of plants and pollinators to help them understand the day-to-day activities of bees. 

Their work is at the design and prototype phase, which will likely lead into actual implementation this fall. This phase of the project has focused on designing the interaction and continued research to determine what information to include and what interaction techniques to use in the simulation to have the best impact for learning. 

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).  The Trust Fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by the citizens of Minnesota to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.  Currently, 40% of net Minnesota State Lottery proceeds are dedicated to growing the Trust Fund and ensuring future benefits for Minnesota’s environment and natural resources.