Making St. Paul green this spring
Rebecca Noecker City Council Member, Ward 2
Spring is finally here — or at least, I hope it is.
As I write this on April 17, the air temperature is 33 degrees and a blanket of snow covers the roof outside my office window. But as an eternal optimist, I’m confident that by the time you’re reading this, spring will have sprung.
In honor of the emerging green, here are a few things we’re doing to make St. Paul greener and more climate-resilient:
No Mow May – In April, the City Council passed a resolution I authored to officially recognize No Mow May in the City of St. Paul. For the month of May, residents are encouraged not to mow their lawns as bees and other pollinators emerge from dormancy and search for flowering plants for food. Research in Wisconsin showed that households that participated in No Mow May had more bees and more varieties of bees in their lawns than households that didn’t participate. St. Paul joins other Minnesota cities such as Edina, New Brighton and Rochester in suspending restrictions on tall grass and weeds during the month. Enjoy the month off of mowing and know you’re helping pollinators and protecting our local ecosystem at the same time.
Restoring Our Tree Canopy – Emerald Ash borers have devastated our urban forest, but we’re making strides in replanting the trees we’ve lost. We’re also taking advantage of the opportunity to train the next generation in maintaining our tree canopy. Through an innovative youth jobs partnership with Tree Trust, many boulevard trees in front of St. Paul residences will be planted and maintained by young people this year. Restoring neighborhood trees while giving young people good-paying jobs and work experience is a win-win to celebrate.
Electric Vehicles – The city is working hard to make electric vehicles and charging stations accessible to all St. Paul residents. Our initial buildout of the EV Spot Network and Evie Carshare will be complete this year, with 38 public charging locations in St. Paul. Evie Carshare has over 5,000 members in St. Paul and Minneapolis, collectively taking an estimated 300 trips per day in zero-emission vehicles, and we’ve been awarded funding to expand Evie to even more neighborhoods in 2024. We’re also making progress in the move toward electric vehicles in our city fleet. I’m proud that our St. Paul Fire Department will be home to the first all-electric fire truck in Minnesota, which should arrive in late 2024. The truck will operate out of the new Fire Station 7, which is expected to be completed in 2025, and will include the needed charging infrastructure.
Renewable Energy – City buildings are becoming increasingly green. We won federal funding to convert the primates building at Como Zoo to geothermal energy, and the new North End Community Center and Wakan Tipi Center will both use a combination of geothermal and solar energy. At the same time, we’re using our influence to encourage private players to move toward clean energy. The city was part of a coalition that successfully advocated for Xcel Energy to accelerate their conversion to renewable energy in the coming years. Xcel now aims to provide 85% carbon-free electricity by 2030 and 100% carbon-neutral electricity by 2040.
Tracking Our Progress – To reach our ambitious climate goals, we need to know how we’re doing. I’m excited about the newly launched St. Paul Climate Dashboard, which will track our progress on the goals in our Climate Action and Resilience Plan. You can check out the dashboard and see how we’re doing at climateaction.stpaul.gov.