Pollinator Habitat Designation Program
There are over 100 wildlife cooperatives around the state, many focusing on deer and pheasants. Pollinator habitat is of greater interest lately as a result of declining pollinator (bees, butterflies, and other insects) numbers. A decline in pollinators is bad news as pollinators are required for our food production! In addition, we are still working to address concerns about nutrient loading (pollution, contaminants, algae blooms, etc.) in our waterways, soil erosion, and decreasing wildlife habitat acres. All of these factors can be addressed with one common solution: grassland habitat.
Above picture from a habitat event at the Ingham Conservation District.
Pollinators is a buzz word these days, with focuses on the Monarch butterfly, concerns about native bees, and water quality being central to the concern. The Michigan Wildlife Cooperatives program has seen localized successes in deer management and pheasant restoration around the state. Cooperatives are simply landowners and wildlife enthusiasts (including hunters, birders, and fellow conservationists), who are working together to improve habitat and hunting in their area. Many members of these cooperatives are already planting grasslands with wildflowers for wildlife as well as for their visual appeal. National Wildlife Federation became interested because of the over 300,000 acres within this program that is being managed for wildlife. Since there is already an interest in increasing grassland habitat complexes on cooperatives, maybe there would be interest in expanding more wildlife cooperative acres into grasslands or even developing pollinator cooperatives!
With the goal of quantifying habitat impacts in Michigan of managed, quality grasslands, Michigan Wildlife Cooperatives is partnering with the National Wildlife Federation to create a small habitat designation program. The hope is to collect information from habitat managers who are creating and enhancing grassland complexes on their properties so we can showcase the impacts we are having in Michigan for pollinators. The program is quite simple, if you meet the below criteria, please submit information about your grassland structure via the application link below. A few additional questions will be asked about the diversity of species in your grassland habitat, as well as a request for pictures. Landowners who complete this process and meet the criteria will be mailed a Pollinator Habitat Designation sticker they can place on a cooperative sign, habitat sign, or on their car window!
Pollinator Habitat Designation Criteria:
- Half acre minimum, with an average 100-foot width.
- Minimum cover type requirement for nesting and pollinator habitat is a mix of at least 4 native grasses and a minimum of 10 native forbs/legumes, with at least 2 species per blossom period (spring, summer, fall) and 2 native species of milkweed. (Forbs/legumes are broad-leafed plants, like wildflowers. The reason for having the diverse set of wildflowers within specific blossom periods so that the fields have blooming flowers available for the pollinators for the maximum amount of time. Also, we want to have to species of milk week for the benefit of the Monarch butterfly, a species that has reduced 90% over the past ten years.)
- Member or neighbor of a wildlife cooperative (or want to help start one in your area)
Before Establishing Pollinator Habitat – Michigan State University Extension
Managing Michigan’s Wildlife: A Landowner’s Guide – Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Agricultural Practices That Conserve Grassland Birds – Michigan Natural Features Inventory
Wildflower Plantings USDA Biology Sheets
Landscaping for Wildlife – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Invasive Species – Michigan Department of Natural Resources
The Xerces Society – Excellent fact sheets
|No-Till Drill Rentals:
Backyard Pollinator Gardens:
To purchase grass plugs, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
MSU Extension – Gardening resources