Monarch Conservation Toolbox

Best Management Practices

Pollinators and Roadsides: Best Management Practices for Managers and Decision Makers

US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

United States


Land Use / Land Cover
Bord de route ou emprise

Agency Type
Federal, NGO

Target or Affiliated Species or Habitat

Publication Type

Original Language

This report for United States roadside or ROW managers, such as state Department of Transportation (DOT) staff, provides descriptive and prescriptive steps to incorporating pollinator habitat beneficial practices into existing ROW management. The document covers practices related to existing habitat identification for preservation or restoration, existing habitat preservation or restoration, mowing or haying, fire, grazing, herbicides/pesticides and seeding. Because ROWs provide extensive habitats and corridors comprised of early-successional plant communities with a high forb component, best practices targeting ROWs can improve habitat for pollinator forage and reproduction in key geographies. The two main approaches to improving ROW habitat through best practices involve alteration of existing vegetation management and increasing the native component of ROW plant communities.

The document provides information on the importance of pollinators, the diversity of pollinators, their biology and ecology, and pollinator declines, including monarchs. Roadside vegetation and management practices are discussed in detail, with state DOT case-studies as examples of successful management of pollinator habitat. Mowing and haying recommendations address the timing and frequency of practices, particularly limiting to once (haying) or twice (mowing) in a growing season and delaying until after the first frost, although regional management windows are also provided for flexible planning. Herbicide/pesticide recommendations address the types and method for applying chemicals to minimize damage to non-target species, including timing, chemical compound, and identification of invasive plants. Prescribed burning and grazing recommendations address the timing, frequency, intensity, duration and extent of practices.

Native plant species are also reviewed for use in ROW plantings, with additional benefits such as reducing invasive species cover, protecting against soil erosion, aesthetics, and value to pollinators identified. A table listing suitable native species and their value and characteristics is provided. Recommendations address appropriate plant diversity, timing and duration. The document also provides a framework for management decisions and a guide to common obstacles and solutions for implementing changes to management practices (Hopwood et al. 2016).

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