Target or Affiliated Species or Habitat
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) operates numerous rest area and travel facilities along 21 major highways throughout the state. “In August 2015, TxDOT facilitated a cooperative agreement between the USFWS and the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) to allow for those entities to plan, establish, and maintain monarch gardens on TxDOT Safety Rest Areas. Monarch gardens, also called demonstration gardens, are areas that provide resources necessary for monarch butterflies to produce successive generations and sustain their migration.
These gardens will provide important habitat components for the monarch migration including native nectar- and host-plants. Each established monarch garden will include interpretive signage, which will educate the public on monarch biology and habitat as well as opportunities for engagement in monarch conservation.
This project will benefit the public by highlighting the habitat needs of the monarch butterfly and other pollinators. Four TxDOT Safety Rest Areas have been identified as appropriate for immediate monarch garden installation; the paired (northbound and southbound) Hill County Safety Rest Areas on IH 35 near Hillsboro, and the paired (northbound and southbound) Bell County Safety Rest Areas on IH 35 near Salado.
Installations of the gardens [were] in progress as of September 2015. In addition to Hillsboro and Salado, TxDOT will continue to collaborate with USFWS and NPSOT to support the installation of additional monarch gardens at Safety Rest Areas along the I-35 corridor and other rest areas, as deemed appropriate, throughout the state” (TPWD 2015). “TxDOT’s current vegetation management practices benefit the propagation of wildflowers and existing populations of milkweed within the ROW, therefore ensuring long term native species sustainability” (TPWD 2015).