DelDOT Makes Efforts to Save Monarch Butterflies - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DelDOT Makes Effort to Save Pollinators

Posted: Jun 19, 2018 9:46 AM Updated:
Wildflowers blooming alongside Delaware state roads. Wildflowers blooming alongside Delaware state roads.

DOVER, Del.- The Delaware Department of Transportation has started to let the flowers bloom alongside state roads.

This is in an effort to save pollinators like monarch butterflies who are experiencing steep decline in population due to the changes in their natural habitat. These wildflowers are one of the main food sources for pollinators.

Pollinators are animals that help plants to reproduce by moving pollen from male plants to the female plants. Pollinators include animals such as bees, birds, and butterflies, among others. Experts say that since many plants rely on pollinators to reproduce, the loss of pollinators can cost billions of dollars to be lost in the economy every year. 

As a result, DelDOT said it is changing its past policy of well-manicured turf grass on roadsides to a more pollinator-friendly environment. More native species have been incorporated in DelDOT's seed mixes and now mowing will be limited to just a safety strip on the side of the road. The rest of the fields on roadsides will be allowed to bloom with wildflowers during the growing season. This will benefit both the wildflower and pollinator populations, according to DelDOT. 

“There are numerous areas along our roads throughout the state that we have regularly mowed just to keep the natural growth down. This innovative program allows DelDOT to not only help pollinators, but it reduces the amount of mowing in some areas and provides a much more visually appealing landscape by our roads,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan.

Next year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to decide whether or not the monarch butterfly will be listed under the Endangered Species Act. DelDOT has joined alongside 24 energy and transportation organizations to develop a conservation agreement for the monarch butterfly. This agreement among businesses that manage large portions of land and its purpose is to help volunteer conservation for the monarch butterflies.

DelDOT has also partnered with the University of Delaware to create experimental pollinator plots to create more habitats for the animals. These experimental plots will inform Delaware’s future pollinator plantings.

In further efforts DelDOT’s Environmental Planner, Erika Furlong, partnered with DNREC’s Eric Ludwig to design a 43-acre pollinator meadow mitigation site outside of Middletown. The Delaware Forest Service’s Todd Gsell will help maintain this new site.

 

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