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Dept. of Natural Resources Encourages More Plants At Solar Farms

On some sunny, spring days, California has more electricity than it can use, like from this solar farm in Fresno.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is encouraging owners of solar energy fields to be more pollinator-friendly.

Across the planet, bees and other pollinating insect species are disappearing at an alarming rate. That’s due in part to a loss of natural habitat space to humans.

Now, as part of the 2018 Pollinator-Friendly Solar Site Act, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is trying to make up for that habitat loss on solar farms.

“When you have those solar panels there, you can’t necessarily put more buildings up, you can’t add anything else to it, but you can add vegetation,” said Rachel Torbert, Deputy Director of the Illinois DNR.

She says adding native plants to solar fields will attract not only bees and insects, but also all kinds of birds.

“Pollinators are critically important to us as a human race,” said Torbert. “They pollinate the plants that we use for food and feed, and they are disappearing at an alarming rate.”

The idea is to have solar field owners work with the department to earn official recognition as a “pollinator-friendly” site.

Picture of Dana Cronin

Dana Cronin

Dana Cronin covers food and agriculture for Illinois Newsroom. Her work has reached both national and regional audiences through WILL's partnership with Harvest Public Media, an ag-focused Midwest reporting collaborative. Prior to Illinois Newsroom, she worked at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C. and for other member stations including KQED in San Francisco and 91.5 KRCC in Colorado Springs, CO. ➤ DCronin@illinois.edu@DanaHCronin

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