Researchers at the University of Manitoba have found a way to save Manitoba Hydro money, without spending a dime.

Researchers have found that the grassy habitat below power lines, usually ignored by conservationists and the public, can be managed to attract butterflies and grassland birds, according to a release from the U of M.

By curbing the use of herbicides, and by not cutting the grass under some sections of power lines, the tall grass heights will attract more butterfly species, including threatened monarch butterflies, and bird species, the release said.

Professor Nicola Koper and her former PhD student Dr. Lionel Leston published studies in two journals this year that investigate this theory.

“This can be a win-win for wildlife and industry,” says Koper in the release. “We should keep looking for opportunities, like this one, to work with industry in a way that can conserve our environment and the bottom line.”

The study suggests that the money Manitoba Hydro would save by mowing less frequently could be used to plant native grass and wildflower species.

Less than one per cent of Manitoba's original 6,000 square kilometres of tall-grass prairies remain.