By Sarah Nigbor
RIVER FALLS – You may have noticed that some people have not mowed their lawns yet this season. If your neighbor’s grass is high and dandelion heads are abounding, there may be a good reason besides a broken mower.
Linda Vivoda-Sadee from Pierce County Grassroots Organizing appeared before the River Falls City Council Tuesday, May 24 to provide information on the No Mow May campaign.
“No Mow May is a community science initiative that encourages property owners to limit lawn mowing practices during the month of May to provide early-season foraging resources for pollinators that emerge in the spring, especially in urban landscapes where few floral resources are available," said Vivoda-Sadee. “Insects especially bees, serve a significant and critical role as polli nators of plants, including agricultural plants. The ideal pollinator-friendly habitat is one comprised of mostly native wildflowers, grasses, vines, shrubs and trees blooming in succession throughout the growing season. The formative period of establishment of pollinator and other insect species and the many songbirds and other urban wildlife species that depend upon them occurs in late spring and early summer as they emerge from dor- mancy and require flowering plants as crucial foraging habitat." In 2019, Appleton, Wis. became the first city in the United States to support the No Mow May idea, which is meant to boost bees’ and pollinator populations, by amending their lawn mowing ordinance.
According to Vivoda-Sadee, municipal adoption is spreading across Wisconsin into Michigan and Minnesota, Iowa and Montana. She said the City of River Falls could allow interested residents to increase pollinator- friendly habitat by encouraging pollinator- friendly lawncare practices on their own properties for the month of May during this formative period.
"The City of River Falls could ovcially recognize No Mow May to actively promote and educate the community about the critical period of pollinator emergence, generation of crucial pollinator-supporting habitat and early spring foraging opportunities," she said. "The city could direct stau to not issue correction notices for long grass and weed violations for the month of May, permitting all residents to voluntarily delay or reduce lawn care until June, allowing pollinator species to emerge and early flowering grasses and foli age to establish, which may result in ground cover exceeding established ordinance height restrictions." While May is soon over, No Mow May is food for thought next year. Other cities that have adopted it are Wausau, Oshkosh, Fort Atkinson and Stevens Point. This year, the idea has taken root in De Pere, Wisconsin Rapids and La Crosse as well.
Studies show a steep decrease in wild bee populations in the 21st century. Climate change and the irresponsible use of pesticides and herbicides are factors that hurt the bee population, along with habitat loss. Studies in Appleton also show that bee populations have increased since No Mow May was implemented.
If having a raggedy lawn full of dandelion heads isn’t your thing, there are other ways you can help bees. According to Bee City USA, you can plant a pollinator friendly habitat, transition to an organic land management system, provide community education, provide nesting sites for bees, relocate rather than destroy hives or buy certified organic agricultural products.
Vivoda-Sadee’s information was part of public comment time, so no decisions were made on the topic.