Hamline Midway Coalition, community members and partner organizations are working together to transition the land within the cloverleaf intersection of Snelling Ave and Pierce Butler Route into a more natural habitat. The effort to create “Pierce Butler Meadow” has been in action since 2016. Snelling Ave is a state of Minnesota highway and Pierce Butler Route is a county road. To date, the neighborhood continues to steward this right-of-way space as a natural area with the intent that unmowed, diverse native vegetation can be supportive to residents, water quality, air quality, pollinators and wildlife.

Through planting, weeding, and seeding plants native to Minnesota, Pierce Butler Meadow can support local wildlife, collect street runoff and more. The plants establish deep roots that soak up excess water, preventing dirt, trash, and oil from entering storm drains and the Mississippi River. This meadow is an ecosystem that provides many benefits! It blooms, collects, and filters water, air, and debris.

How PBM came to be

In the mid-2010’s, HMC’s Transportation committee became involved with the redesign of the Snelling Ave & Pierce Butler Route as part of a MnDOT road improvements to Snelling Ave that triggered an update of the stormwater collection performance of the area. Committee members recognized this as an opportunity to change the way this landscape appeared, functioned and was maintained. HMC, its committee, and neighborhood supporters were awarded a 2017 Capitol Region Watershed District grant that focused on creating a functioning habitat space. First plantings happened in 2018 and had support of neighbors, Hamline University, and local school groups. During the site’s development and to the present day, lead-steward, Stephen Mitrione, played a key role to connect people, plant material and agencies to keep the communities’ goals in the forefront.

Since the first prescribed burn and plantings, neighborhood groups and community members have been on site annually, installing more plants, harvesting seeds, picking up trash and slowing down invasive plants. There is signage for the area that designates the site’s role.

Recent stewardship invests in hyper-local plant propagation

In 2021, in order to be responsive to the Covid pandemic while still connecting community members to the meadow, a seed starting kit program was created using native plant seeds harvested locally. Since then over 500 Winter Sowing kits have been distributed throughout the community at little free cabinets, a rotating kiosk and at in-person workshops. These seed-starting kits are designed to grow plants for our community including Pierce Butler Meadow and other spaces along “The Bee Line” (aka Pierce Butler Route). A group of local growers, the “Seedling Corps”, then fosters germinated kits until fall when the greater community are invited to help install plants at events at Pierce Butler Meadow, Lexington pollinator patch, Monarch City(External link) and other public spaces.

The process of using hyper-locally collected native plant seed yields a plant stock especially adapted to the Hamline Midway and nearby. These plants are in-tune with a wide range of wildlife while tolerant of our growing conditions. Native plants along Pierce Butler have already been documented to be supportive to the endangered Rusty Patched Bumblebee. Native plants also typically produce an abundance of seed that can be saved and shared gardener to gardener- seeds and plant bounty for everyone.

PBM is part of something bigger

The vision of Pierce Butler Meadow has grown to be a a part of The Bee Line project, which emerged in 2022. Sponsored in part by Hamline Midway CoalitionFrogtown Green(External link)Lawns to Legumes(External link), the MnSEED project(External link) (supported by Capitol Region Watershed District(External link), The Minnesota State Horticultural Society(External link) and Como Community Seed Library(External link)), and by community members across St Paul near the neighborhoods of Hamline Midway & Frogtown.

Pierce Butler Meadow is a community-led habitat established with support and funding from:

Lawns to Legumes

Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Community Roadside Landscape Partnership Program

Capitol Region Watershed District

Hamline University

Hamline Midway Coalition and its Environment Committee.

Our community extends a thank you for all the contributors to the local movement to restore native plants and pollinators along The Bee Line. Our collective actions will make a big impact on the local environment surrounding the county-owned Pierce Butler Route.

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