County tests methods to improve roadside pollinator habitats
to increase floral resources along roadsides.
During the past 10 years, pollinator species such as monarch butterflies and other wildlife have declined due to the loss of native habitats from increasing development, intensive agricultural practices, and greater use of pesticides. Roadsides, in particular, have grown in importance as a refuge for pollinators.
Washington County public works staff, in collaboration with the Washington Conservation District, are testing four different methods of site preparation and seeding to determine which is the most effective and efficient way to increase floral resources for pollinators along roadsides. Those methods include application of various conventional and organic herbicides, mowing, and broadcast seeding.
Washington County received a $5,000 grant through the LRRB's Local Operational Research Assistance (OPERA) Program for the project team to purchase 22 pounds of seed for the three-year project. The team designed the seed mix specifically to provide nectar for pollinators during the spring, summer, and fall. In addition, the seed is readily available at most native plant retailers and costs less than $500 per acre.
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Once the floral seed has become established and been maintained over the course of three growing seasons, the project team will use what they’ve learned from the process to determine the best methods for enhancing roadsides with pollinator resources. Ultimately, the project team will share their findings with other local agencies seeking to provide habitat and demonstrate stewardship at the local level.
—Michael McCarthy, LTAP editor