Better late than never, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Thursday unveiled its latest critical habitat license plate for vehicles, the new design emblazoned with pollinators.
The pollinator plates were originally proposed in 2017. But the same state computer system malfunctions that caused Minnesota driver's license backups — the Minnesota License and Registration System — also delayed the new license plates, DNR officials said. The $73 million failed computer system couldn’t produce the new, six-number plates.
MNLARS has since been replaced and the new plates are now available wherever residents renew their plates or tabs, online or in person.
The winning license plate design by artist Timothy Turenne depicts the state butterfly — the monarch — and rusty patched bumblebee, recently designated as the state bee. Pollinators, including the two species featured on the license plate, have been generally declining across the U.S. due to habitat loss and likely issues with pesticides.
Vehicle owners who want the new plates pay an extra fee of $30 per year with the money going to critical habitat acquisition projects through the Reinvest in Minnesota program. In 2019, the plates generated $5.3 million to help buy and manage critical habitats for all types of species.
“Many Minnesotans share a commitment to maintaining healthy populations of bees, butterflies and other native pollinators,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in a statement Thursday. “This beautiful new critical habitat license plate is an opportunity to show your support for pollinators while providing important funding to preserve habitats.”
The new pollinator plates join a host of others on Minnesota vehicles that help wildlife, including chickadees, loons, moose and lady's slipper flowers. The state also offers habitat plates for deer hunters, turkey hunters, pheasant hunters, anglers and state park fans.