VDOT to install pollinator habitats to protect ecosystem

by | Jun 18, 2024 | ALLFFP, Environmental, Outdoors, Transportation

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will install 135 new acres of pollinator habitats this year as part of its ongoing commitment to protect the valuable ecosystem provided by pollinators such as bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, flies, and more.

Since 2014, VDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program has created naturalized areas of native plants along state-maintained roads and properties that provide habitats to threatened and dwindling pollinator species. The program began with four plots in Northern Virginia.

This year marks five years since VDOT joined the nationwide Monarch Butterfly Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances, a voluntary agreement between energy and transportation partners and the programs’ administrator, the University of Illinois-Chicago. VDOT’s initial five-year goal was proactively implementing conservation measures on roughly 3,100 acres of interstate roadsides to support the monarch butterfly.

Five years into the program, VDOT estimates contributing around 8,000 acres of pollinator habitats along VDOT roadways, well above the initial goal. VDOT performs monitoring each spring season to document milkweed and nectar flowering species.

Pollinator corridors assist VDOT in efficiently delivering a safe transportation system. Roadside vegetation reduces erosion and stormwater runoff while providing sediment control. With more flowers and vegetation, VDOT beautifies the roadsides and saves time and money by reducing how often it needs to mow areas along the roadways. Additionally, roadsides with healthy plant communities can better resist invasive plants that require herbicides.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin proclaimed June 17-23 as Virginia Pollinator Week in recognition of the important role of pollinators to the Commonwealth’s environment and agricultural economy.

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