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With spring on the horizon, lawn care will soon become a regular task. For some, the job will not include pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals to control the property. The Branch County Conservation District in Coldwater, MI sponsored a Wildlife and Pollinator Workshop to assist those interested in something different. Several local landowners took advantage of the free event that provided information about grasslands and resources for the attendees to take advantage of.
The first session dealt with why grasslands are important and the relationship between pollinators and wildlife in those areas. Manja Holland from the National Wildlife Federation shared slides about bees and monarchs with the idea of encouraging them. She talked specifically about the need for milkweeds to the monarch butterfly population as their caterpillars will only eat those plants. Holland also promoted native plantings, or plants that come up naturally in the region.
While Holland answered the question of why grasslands are important, Farm Bill Biologist Lyndsay Morrison talked to the audience about how to implement and maintain their grasslands. Her first focus was on the site where the plants would be located. Morrison talked about proper plants for the area dependent upon the condition of the grounds. She encouraged year round plantings with the idea of having continued sustenance for the creatures that live there.
“Active seeding starts in June, maybe May or a dormant seeding in October,” Morrison said. 
“You can try no-till drill which can be rented. Another option is broadcasting and the best time is when there is snow on the ground.”
The final talk was shared as representatives from the Branch Conservation District and Pheasants Forever discussed tools and resources. Branch County Pheasants Forever Chapter President Vicki Hilborg began the proceedings with a presentation about the program.
“If you plant for pheasants, you will get other animals as well,” Hilborg said. “It’s kind of like that movie where if they built it, they will come.”
Michigan Coordinating Wildlife Biologist Ben Beaman talked about the ongoing project of recreating grasslands in the Coldwater Lake State Park. This project began in 2016 and will turn the 400 acre park into “a more natural wildlife habitat and improve recreation opportunities for the public.” Beaman works with the Pheasants Forever program.
The attendees were given a time of questions and answers along with several tables of printed materials relating to grassland development. A number of opportunities for grants and support were made available to the participants, giving them more motivation to develop grasslands in areas as small as their backyards up to a large piece of land including several acres.

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