Target or Affiliated Species or Habitat
Transportation ROWs and roadsides have been identified as crucial spots to restore habitat. State Departments of Transportation are becoming increasingly aware of the plight of pollinators and are taking action to protect pollinator roadside habitat. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is one of the nation’s leaders in pollinator roadside protection, even starting a statewide movement called “Saving Ohio’s Pollinators.” The project began on a small scale in 2013 so the ODOT could “learn how to do it right” (Sarikonda 2015).
The Ohio Prairie Nursery aided the ODOT in designing a native prairie seed mix, which was then used to plant two 0.4-hectare (1-acre) pollinator habitat test plots along a highway in Ohio. These pollinator plots were extremely successful and resulted in the creation of planting guidelines by the ODOT. The guide outlines basic site preparation and maintenance, and includes a plant list of the seed mix used for the roadside restorations. The ODOT is currently involved in locating quality areas of milkweed habitat along roadsides and creating No Mow signs to indicate and protect these milkweed patches (Sarikonda 2015). An important part of this initiative is the role of farmers and private landowners.
Farmers are often concerned about milkweed growing in or around their fields. ODOT realizes this and is making concerted efforts to reach out to farmers and other private landowners to get their input on the restoration activities. As a result of these important conversations and outreach, ODOT has modified its seed mixes to not include species that spread aggressively, like common milkweed (A. syriaca), for restoration projects adjacent to farm fields. It is important to note that the majority of people doing the actual restoration with ODOT are volunteers.