Stevens Point proposes “No Mow May”

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 6:34 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The month of May usually means a return to yard work, which can seem like a chore that eats up a Saturday afternoon. Now people in Stevens Point might have an excuse to avoid some of that for a month, and help out the environment in the process.

Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza has proposed a “No Mow May”, which would allow people to opt-out of mowing all or part of their lawn for the month. The extra growth is meant to help pollinators such as bees gain strength after the dormant winter.

“As you probably know, bee populations across the country have been in decline for a bunch of years already,” said Stevens Point Mayor Wiza.

But helping the bees also helps us in return.

“Insect pollinators are responsible for one in three bites of food. And they’re one of the lowest levels of the food chain, so without them the rest of us wouldn’t be able to be here,” said UWSP Chair of the Bee Campus U.S.A Committee Abby Kreger.

Stevens Point has long prided itself in its conservation efforts. It is named Bird City Wisconsin, a Tree City U.S.A., and boasts the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point as a bee-friendly campus.

“This is an opportunity, especially when bees and insects are pretty vulnerable, in that spring-type season when everything starts to come into bloom and they really need that energy from the winter. It’s a way to, again, help.”

If Stevens Point City Council passes the proposal in its April general meeting, participants in the program would have to register. And so people won’t think properties are just being lazy or neglectful, they’ll receive a sign to post in their yard.

“Where, your neighbors, people walking by, if they see an overgrown lawn, they will know that you are participating in ‘No Mow May’,” said Mayor Wiza.

It’s not enough to grow the grass. To fully protect the pollinators while they gather strength for the season you shouldn’t walk through it either.

“A lot of the time, grasses that line sidewalks especially in ditches and that kind of thing are native grasses that the pollinators rely on, and so, don’t go through it as a shortcut, if you just don’t take the shortcut, that is another simple thing because you could be trampling some habitat,” said Kreger.

Mayor Wiza said one of the snags that other communities, like Appleton that have tried out No Mow May, have encountered is getting people to resume mowing their lawns once the month is over. He says they are preparing for that eventually although they have yet to hammer out the details of what the penalties might be.

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