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Letter: Stop mowing native prairies along Bemidji’s south shore

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opinion Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Three cheers to Bemidji Parks and Recreation Department for their foresight and effort to establish a native prairie on the grounds of the south shore area near the Sanford Center. It was hugely successful. The scenic quality is overwhelming with penstemon and other spring wildflowers of the prairie in full bloom right now, and the prairie grasses are promising a show of their subtle colors come fall. I can hardly wait for the summer wildflowers and the taller grasses to appear with their show of color.

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How wonderful to have a large patch of rare native prairie right here within the city limits.

But wait. There is a problem. The other day while on a bike ride with my son, we noticed a huge mower cutting it down, including right along the bike trail. We rushed into the Sanford Center to talk to someone about this and were told that people complain about “the weeds,” and besides it’s up to the city to manage the area. I don’t think he even knew he had a native prairie right outside the front door.

He clearly didn’t know that mowing doesn’t accomplish a thing this time of year except to promote invasive species, which can be a big problem. Mowing and burning is often a management tool to maintain native prairie, but it must be done in early spring to control non-native plants if it’s warranted.

What an educational opportunity. The city should put up some attractive signs to explain what has been done here and the values of native vegetation and associated animals like butterflies and other insect pollinators attracted to the area.

Anyone who cares about this should contact their councilperson and the Sanford Center and put a stop to the mowing.

John Mathisen

Bemidji

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