For Immediate Release, September 22, 2020

Contact:

Tara Cornelisse, Center for Biological Diversity, (971) 717-6425, tcornelisse@biologicaldiversity.org
Matt Higgins, City of Minnetonka, (952) 939-8213, mhiggins@minnetonkamn.gov

Agreement Reached to Protect Endangered Rusty Patched Bumblebee at Minnetonka’s Lone Lake Park

New Conservation Measures Will Protect Minnesota’s State Bee

MINNEAPOLIS— The Center for Biological Diversity and the city of Minnetonka have reached an agreement to protect the endangered rusty patched bumblebee at Lone Lake Park, the site of a planned multi-use mountain-bike trail. Under the agreement, the city will implement numerous conservation measures, including creation of habitat for the bees and other pollinators.

The parties began discussing how to protect the endangered bees last month, after the Center notified the city of Minnetonka of its plans to bring a lawsuit under the federal Endangered Species Act. The city committed to protect the rusty patched bumblebee, and the Minnetonka City Council voted Monday to approve the agreement.

“This agreement will bring real, on-the-ground conservation measures to saving the rusty patched bumblebee in one of the few places it still lives,” said Tara Cornelisse, a senior scientist at the Center. “With everyone working together, Lone Lake Park will keep providing the habitat that’s so urgently needed for this endangered bee’s survival and recovery.”

Under today’s agreement Minnetonka will convert one acre of turf at Lone Lake Park into pollinator habitat and earmark $20,000 for creating and improving habitat for the bee on private and public lands in the city. The city has also agreed to limit use of pesticides on city property.

Other provisions are aimed at reducing impacts during construction and maintenance of the multi-use bike trail, such as restrictions on soil disturbance and tree removals. A local resident group, Friends of Lone Lake Park, has also committed volunteers to restore and create habitat in the park.

“On behalf of the City of Minnetonka, I thank the Center for Biological Diversity for its excellent work to safeguard endangered species, and for collaborating with the city to protect the rusty patched bumble bee in Lone Lake Park,” said Minnetonka Mayor Brad Wiersum. “The City of Minnetonka and our natural resources team are pleased to partner with the Center to ensure the bee and its habitat are protected. Preserving and protecting Minnetonka’s distinctive natural environment ranks among the city’s top priorities.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the rusty patched bumblebee, which is Minnesota’s state bee, has declined by 87% in the past 20 years and estimated to be present in only 0.1% of its former range.

In 2017 the Service listed the bee under the Endangered Species Act. But earlier this month the agency decided not to designate critical habitat for the endangered bumblebee.

As pollinators, rusty patched bumblebees are vital to healthy ecosystems and food security, and they were once found widely across the upper Midwest and Northeast.

“With these new conservation measures for the bee, Minnetonka’s setting a standard for other municipalities in the Midwest,” said Cornelisse.

Rusty_patched_bumble_bee_Heather_Holm_FPWC.jpg
Rusty patched bumblebee. Photo courtesy of Heather Holm. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.