A recent agreement between several U.S. Departments of Transportation and the Federal Government has been reached to promote and create a more pollinator-friendly practice and corridors across the states. The agreement comes as a part of the executive memorandum that asked departments and agencies to create a federal strategy to promote the health of monarch butterflies, honeybees, and other pollinators.
The project aims to provide the Monarch butterflies with refuge and food across the Interstate 35, which is part of their migration route from Mexico to Canada. This could help to boost the species’ declining populations.
The agreement is called the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and some its participants were the Department of Transportation from Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), according to an official statement from the agreement.
“Representatives have organized to coordinate the development of educational materials throughout the route, assist individual state departments of transportation efforts to inventory, protect, plant and manage pollinator habitats, and develop strategies for pollinator-friendly
seed mixes,” the agreement states.
The participants hope for the route to be informally referred as the “Monarch Highway.” It has been recognized as well that individual states department of transportation have made a significant progress managing pollinators habits well beyond the route and are sensitive to agricultural needs along the highway.
The orange-and-black butterfly, which migrates between 1,200 and 2,800 miles from the United States and Canada each year, have suffered due to a decline in milkweed plants, the one they need to feed and lay their eggs on, as reported by CBS News.
Milkweed has been destroyed by a pesticide used or plowing and land development all over their migration route. Many efforts have been made for years to try to restore the greatness the population once had.
The widespread use of increasingly deadly pesticides is a death knell for monarch survival, said Sylvia Fallon, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement. There is a need to scale back the use of these pervasive pesticides and plant more milkweed to keep these incredible creatures alive and thriving, she added
After a pretty hard road, the monarch butterfly is on rebound according to the estimates recently released by U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s partners in Mexico. But even though the population looks to be out of danger, experts said that the efforts to restore its habitat must continue.
According to Charles Zelle, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, in his state, they have even found that restoring prairie along the interstate is not only good for the environments but also helps to reduce maintenance costs.
Natural prairie grasses and flowers that provide foraging habitat and places to breed, nest and overwinter also do not have to be mowed as often and help prevent erosion on steep banks, he added. Pollinators are essential to the production of food, and in the United States, some of them pollinate an estimated $15 billion of crops each year.
Source: Memorandum of Understanding
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You might want to plant a hedge row at least 9′ off the highway. The hedgerow will help shield the plantings from pollution from the highway exhaust.