With more than 10 million acres of land in roadsides in the United States alone, transportation rights-of-way are a significant, yet often overlooked, resource for pollinator conservation. In landscapes denuded of natural areas by large scale agriculture or urbanization, roadsides are an increasingly important component of regional habitat networks. They frequently support native vegetation, providing refuge for wildlife and connecting fragmented habitat. The wildlife living on roadsides touches communities in every state, province, and county of North America.
3 things you can do to enhance pollinator populations on roadsides!
Include native grasses and wildflowers
Roadsides planted with native grasses and wildflowers support more butterflies and bees than roadsides dominated by non-native plants. In addition to providing roadside pollinator habitat, native plants can contribute significantly to soil stabilization, runoff reduction, and can contribute to reduced maintenance costs.
Mowing of roadside vegetation beyond the shoulder during the growing season should be reduced, so wildflowers can be allowed to bloom. Consider mowing once a year in the dormant season or mowing once every few years to reduce impact of mowing on pollinators and other wildlife such as songbirds.
Roadside Best Management Practices that Benefit Pollinators
The best management practices provide concrete steps that can be taken by any roadside management agency to improve roadside vegetation for pollinators. The BMPs cover management of existing habitat, including ways to modify the use of mowing and herbicides to enhance roadsides, and methods to incorporate native plants and pollinator habitat into the design of new roadsides. Click here to download PDF.
Roadsides as Habitat for Pollinators: Are Milkweeds Really Weeds?
Although the name milkweed implies that the plants are indeed weeds, they are a diverse group of native wildflowers that are not listed as noxious weeds in any state or at the federal level in the U.S. Please read this fact sheet for even more information. Click here to download PDF.
Roadsides as Habitat for Pollinators: FAQ
This fact sheet answers some frequently-asked questions regarding roadsides as habitat for pollinators. Click here to download PDF.
Literature Review: Habitat Enhancement and Best Management Practices in Highway Rights-of-Way
This technical literature review, produced for the Federal Highway Administration with ICF International, includes a thorough treatment on the status of pollinators, causes of decline, potential mitigation efforts, habitat restoration and management for pollinators, and applications to roadsides. Click here to download PDF.
Pollinators and Roadsides: Best Management Practices for Managers and Decision Makers
These best management practices are intended as a starting point for State DOTs looking to make roadsides more pollinator-friendly. This report is organized around the key findings of the literature review and the interview report. Click here to download PDF.
Pollinators and Roadsides: Managing Roadsides for Bees and Butterflies
A concise overview of the conservation potential of roadside habitat and practical information on how to maximize the value of these areas for pollinators while meeting basic traffic safety requirements. Click here to download PDF.
Learn more about how milkweeds are essential plants for pollinators and great for roadside planting. Read more …
A Manager’s Guide to Roadside Revegetation
This guide, by Thomas Landis, focuses on revegetating roadsides with native plants. Click here to download the PDF.
Roadsides for Wildlife
Learn more about how roadside restoration and management can benefit wildlife: Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources’ website.
Integrated Roadside Management
The objective of this publication is to provide basic technical support for new and existing Iowa county roadside programs. The manual is also intended to provide guidance to policymakers and engineers interested in adopting or expanding integrated vegetation management in county right-of-way. From Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management. Click here to download the PDF.
What’s the Buzz about Pollinators and Roadsides? Brochure
Attracting Native Pollinators
Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies, is available to purchase from our website. Read more …