North Mankato man fights to keep natural yard, encourages pollinating lawns

North Mankato man fights to keep natural yard, encourages pollinating lawns

NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — What is now a blanket of snow, sprouts a vegetation, bee and butterfly haven in the spring. That’s what a local North Mankato man’s yard features every year.

“All summer long it’s loaded with birds and butterflies,” explained natural yard owner Ed Borchardt.

Those are visitors that flourish in former Minnesota State University, Mankato biology professor Borchardt’s natural yard in North Mankato.

As the concern over the environment grows, natural lawns are gaining popularity. As more and more people ditch chemicals and cut lawns with native plants for the area’s birds and pollinators.

“The decline I’ve seen in the monarchs and the pollinators, the decline in the bird population,” said Borchardt explaining the importance of natural lawns.

But not everyone shares Borchardt’s vision.

Over the past years, several community members have contacted the city of North Mankato saying the property is an eyesore and contracts insects.

“The people that actually live in the neighborhood had concerns that (while) the owners have made improvements to the property throughout the last year or so it’s still not acceptable to those who live in the neighborhood, that they’ve done address the overgrowth of the property,” said North Mankato Community Development Director Mike Fischer.

On Dec. 1, the City of North Mankato unanimously voted to cite the Borchardt property as a nuisance and gave him until June 1 to clean up the lawn.

Borchardt’s attorney recently filed a lawsuit challenging the city council’s action.

Tuesday, the city is hosting a public hearing, that will end on a vote for a new natural yard proposal. Where residents would be allowed to have up to 500 square feet or 30% of their yard converted to a natural planting area.

City officials say they are attempting to find a balance between the two preferences.

A group of residents has opposed the city’s ordinance and several are expected to speak at the hearing.

The public hearing and vote will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday. A copy of the proposed ordinance and related information is available online

People can also request a copy of the ordinance by calling 507-625-4141.

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