This spring to aid pollinators and local stormwater management, the PWA are encouraging watershed communities to participate in a No-Mow May campaign across the Petitcodiac River watershed. Many conservation groups across the world have been promoting and encouraging communities to adopt a No-Mow or less mowing approach to lawns and ditches to help our pollinator populations during May which, is a critical time of year. No-Mow May campaigns are carried out through education and awareness, to weave the benefits to society with the benefits to nature. Flowering plants in the spring can bloom and provide an early source of nectar for pollinators, such as bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and beetles. Letting lawns and ditches grow for the month of May has proven to provide immense benefits to pollinator species. The disappearance and decline of many bee, butterfly, beetle, and other insect species is a deep concern of environmental groups such as the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance and many others. Pollinators are key species in our local ecosystems, and without them, our natural infrastructures will be at risk. Extensive research has been published across the world in this subject. Pollinator species studied in Missouri such as butterflies showed to increase in populations when no-mow habits are adopted from late summer to early fall; reducing mowing during peak seasonal butterfly activity can increase populations (Halbritter, et. al., 2015). Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières scientists published research which found that intensively managed lawns have been shown to have clear negative ecological effects, especially in urban areas (Watson, Christopher J. et. al., 2019). An increase of native grasses and wildflower species in roadside ditches with a reduced mowing regime has been proven in research to benefit erosion control and soil stabilization (Entsminger et. al., 2017). Roadside ditches usually need erosion control products if they experience heavy rainfall often. Vegetation and shrubs help ditches have the capacity to protect the structure from erosion through root systems. There are many benefits of allowing ditch vegetation to grow that does not impact the primary purpose of ditches. The Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance also has documented the impacts of snow and ice melt runoff in May. Spikes in nutrients such as phosphate and nitrate as well as bacteria colonies of E. coli are commonly monitored in our established sites in the watershed. Providing a buffer to the Petitcodiac River system through naturalized lawns and ditches for the month of May that will help prevent pollutants and debris from travelling directly into freshwater ecosystems. Plants that are allowed to grow unencumbered will absorb more rainfall and snowmelt that will be fed back to our groundwater reserves that were in need of replenishing last summer during the drought. The plant roots will filter and release the water to infiltrate through the soil. Nutrient pollution is a dangerous impact to our watershed, one impact of which is creating more algae than the natural balance in our freshwater ecosystems that will die off and eat up the dissolved oxygen necessary for aquatic species like fish to breathe underwater. This is also true for cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) growth in our watershed. Cyanobacteria growth is encouraged by higher water temperatures and abundance of nutrients, both water quality impacts of stormwater runoff. The more nutrients that are absorbed by the plants in resident’s yards and ditches are less that will travel directly to our river system.

Become an ally to our local pollinator species and natural infrastructure that provide invaluable ecological services to our watershed communities and beyond. We hope you will consider supporting the No-Mow May campaign and allowing early spring wildflowers to provide resting places and sources of food to our pollinator species. We look forward to seeing fields of bright colourful wildflowers across the yards across the Petitcodiac watershed, with busy Monarch butterflies and honeybees enjoying the spring and inspiring us all to find the beauty in the now.

References:
Halbritter, D. A., Daniels, J. C., Whitaker, D. C., & Huang, L. (2015). Reducing mowing
frequency increases floral resource and butterfly (Lepidoptera: Hesperioidea and
Papilionoidea) abundance in managed roadside margins. Florida Entomologist, 98(4),
1081-1092.
Entsminger, E. D., Jones, J. C., Guyton, J. W., Strickland, B. K., & Leopold, B. D. (2017, June).
Evaluation of Mowing Frequency on Right-of-Way Plant Communities in Mississippi.
Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management, 8(1), 125-139.
Watson, Christopher J., Léonie Carignan‐Guillemette, Caroline Turcotte, Vincent Maire,
Raphaël Proulx. Ecological and economic benefits of low‐intensity urban lawn
management. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13542