Our lingering winter likely has you looking forward to trading your snow shovel for your lawn mower. Be prepared, however, to stow that lawn mower away during the month of May.
Why? To help bees and other pollinators survive and thrive.
The City of Brookings is instituting No Mow May, a national campaign advocated by Bee City USA to help bees and other early-season pollinators find a welcoming habitat after the dormant winter.
Participation in No Mow May is voluntary. People can choose to opt out of mowing all or part of their lawns.
At its Feb. 28 meeting, the Brookings City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 23-004 to allow owners or occupants to refrain from mowing their lawns during May. However, by June 7 all properties must be brought into compliance with the City’s vegetation management practices, which call for lawns, grasses and weeds to be no taller than 15 inches. No violation notices will be issued during May.
Yard signs for participants are available free of charge for pickup at the Brookings City & County Government Center, Suite 230, at 520 Third St. The yard signs serve as a notice to residents and visitors that the residence is participating in No Mow May. The signs are available, one per address, on a first-come, first-served basis and are being provided courtesy of the Brookings Sustainability Council. The signs must be placed in yards, not on boulevards.
The Sustainability Council recommended approval of the No Mow May ordinance to the City Council after researching the initiative and speaking with the mayor of peer college community Stevens Point, Wis., which adopted the program a couple years ago.
“Bees and other pollinators play a vital role in our food supply and help keep our natural resources healthy,” said Robin Buterbaugh, a microbiologist and member of the Sustainability Council. “Spring is a crucial time of year for pollinators as they emerge from the soil and look for habitat and food. That is why we’re excited to bring No Mow May to Brookings.”
Another goal of the No Mow May campaign is to raise awareness. Research has shown significant declines in pollinator species due to environmental stressors, such as habitat loss.
“We hope No Mow May raises awareness by sparking conversations between friends and neighbors who see one another participating in the program,” said Gabrielle Bolwerk, who serves as the South Dakota State University student representative on the Sustainability Council.
According to Bee City USA, No Mow May started in the United Kingdom as an effort to create a better habitat for bees emerging from hibernation. In 2020, Appleton, Wis., became the first city in the United States to formally adopt the initiative. Since then, several other U.S. cities have followed suit.
In May 2018, SDSU became the first university campus in South Dakota to become a Bee Campus USA affiliate. Bee Campus USA promotes groundskeeping and community outreach that supports and promotes pollinators.
For more information about the city’s No Mow May program, visit: www.cityofbrookings-sd.gov/NoMowMay