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About 35 Dakota Electric Association members volunteered their time on May 7 at Lake Byllesby Regional Park near Cannon Falls as part of the annual, statewide, Touchstone Energy GreenTouch Day.

couple planting in prairie

Planting native species as part of the GreenTouch event at Lake Byllesby Regional Park.

Volunteers of all ages planted 1,200 native plants in the prairie. The native species planted this year will provide a natural habitat for animals and nature lovers to enjoy in the years ahead.

“Dakota Electric’s volunteers provided a great service to the park,” natural resource specialist Chris Klatt said. “A total of 26,000 native plants were grown by volunteers in Dakota County Parks, using seed collected from the last remaining natural spaces in the County. The species planted today were part of those volunteer efforts, contributing to a positive feedback loop that expands the pollinator friendly habitat throughout our Park system.”

Dakota Electric’s effort to organize volunteers at the park is part of a larger statewide program started by electric cooperatives in 2000. Since its inception, the annual GreenTouch event has attracted more than 10,000 volunteers statewide who have completed more than 37,000 volunteer hours benefitting Minnesota parks.

This was the eighth year Dakota Electric rallied volunteers to work in a Dakota County park, and the 18th year overall that Dakota Electric has been organizing its members to volunteer at local parks.

“We had a great group of volunteers and beautiful weather,” said Joe Miller, event organizer for Dakota Electric. “This was a fun project that people from young to old could do together.”

people receiving instructions

People receiving instructions about how to plant prairie plants as part of the GreenTouch event at Lake Byllesby Regional Park.

Great River Greening and its volunteers helped organize and lead the event, helping to direct Dakota Electric’s members in their work. The community-based environmental nonprofit is working with Dakota County to assist in habitat restoration in county parks. Funding for this project was provided from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund, as well as Dakota County.

“Restoring parks can’t be done without volunteers,” Becca Tucker, GRG ecologist, said. “Dakota Electric’s volunteers accomplished a significant amount of work.”

Those interested in helping in 2023 can watch for an insert in their bills next March or April. The event is usually held the first Saturday in May.