(Star Tribune) The state’s Board of Water and Soil Resources will select the first 500 or so homeowners this week to receive funding under the trial program, which will pay residents up to $350 to plant pollinator gardens or convert their traditional grass lawns to more bee-friendly yards. Interest has been high enough that the state will keep accepting applications online until early June. “We knew there were going to be a lot of applications for this, but we didn’t know we were going to get close to 6,000 of them in just this first round.”
(Crossroads) Entomologists working in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Transportation have produced a rigorous method for characterizing bumble bee populations and distribution in roadside environments. Their results indicate that roadside greenways offer potential to support a species-rich community of foraging bumble bees – including the rusty-patched bumble bee.
(StarTribune) The federally endangered bumble bee — a single male of the species — has been discovered at the Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area in Inver Grove Heights, a positive sign for ecologists who have worked on restoring the area. Just one bee represents approximately 0.2 percent of the species’ known world population. Minnesota hosts the largest population of the bee in the world, with about 35 percent of the species buzzing about in the Twin Cities metro area.
(NRDC) The Natural Resources Defense Council and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service settled a lawsuit over the failure to protect habitat necessary for the recovery of the rusty patched bumble bee, as required under the Endangered Species Act. The settlement will require USFWS to propose “critical habitat” by July 31, 2020, unless it makes a finding that habitat protections are not prudent. The Service must then finalize any habitat protections by July 31, 2021.
The Trump administration weakened the Endangered Species Act. Franklin’s bumble bee is being considered for the Endangered Species List – but under the newly-weakened law. And the yellow-banded bumble bee won’t be considered for protection as an endangered or threatened species (despite the fact that it’s now found in only 14 of the 25 states it used to inhabit).
(New York Times) The Endangered Species Act has been the most essential piece of United States legislation for protecting fish, plants and wildlife, and has acted as a safety net for species on the brink of extinction – including the rusty patched bumble bee. The changes could clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. The new rules will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. The new rules would also, for the first time, allow economic factors to be taken into account when making determinations.
(The Herald-News) Olivet Nazarene University monitors have been active for three seasons. They spotted two rusty patched bumble bees last year, and their studies year-over-year have provided information about a variety of other species of bumble bees and their life habits. Their data helps measure how the restoration work of Midewin volunteers, partners and staff is helping to bring back habitat for native Illinois prairie species. The ONU report that specifically focuses on the rusty patched bumble bee can be found here.
(CBS19) The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday tossed out a key permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that deals with the project’s effects on threatened or endangered species – including the rusty patched bumble bee. The court wrote that, in fast-tracking the Biological Opinion in connection to the proposed pipeline, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “appears to have lost sight of its mandate under the [Endangered Species Act]: ‘to protect and conserve endangered and threatened species and their habitats.'” The full decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can be found here.