Roadside Vegetation Management of Invasive Plants to Benefit Biodiversity and MDOT Management Programs

Non-native invasive plants readily colonize habitat edges such as transportation corridors where sunlight, soil disturbance, and competitive advantage provide prime conditions for establishment and spread by seed or rhizome. Along roadways, invasive plants create thick infestations that can be difficult to manage, are expensive and time consuming to eradicate or control, and can cause infrastructural damage and safety hazards for motorists, management crews. For example certain invasive plants can block road signs and site lines, encroach on travel lanes, clog drainages or culverts, increase risk of fire, and even push up through pavement (Perron 2008). Furthermore invasive plants degrade wildlife habitat, clog waterways, cause economic loss, impact agriculture, and alter ecosystem services such as pollination by outcompeting and displacing native plants. It has been estimated that invasive plants cause an estimated $120 billion/year in damage and economic losses in the U.S. (Pimental et al. 2004), and invasives are considered to be the second largest cause of biodiversity loss in the U.S. Roadside vegetation management techniques such as mowing, cutting, and herbicides are regularly employed to control invasive plants, but baseline information on the species and abundance of native (non-invasive) plants on treatment sites is lacking. Furthermore restoration and revegetation of treated sites, both to prevent re-establishment of non-native plants and to control erosion, is costly, complicated and often yields disappointing results with available seed mixes, potentially facilitating the re-invasion of non-natives. The re-establishment of desirable species of native forbs and graminoids as a component of roadside vegetation management requires a better understanding of what native species are already present on a treated site (and could promote natural regeneration). Similarly the control and prevention of infestations of invasive species requires an understanding of the species, its habit (e.g aggressiveness), and a proactive approach that emphasizes identification, early detection, and appropriate management. In addition while roadside vegetation management is already conducted with sensitivity towards environmental resources such as rare species, wetlands, aquatic resources, and wildlife, management techniques that favor the establishment of native plants can provide habitat suitable for pollinator species such as the Monarch butterfly – part of a suite of insects that have seen population declines due in part to the spread of invasive plants (Hopwood 2010). Objectives are as follows: (1) Conduct landscape analysis to identify priority field survey areas, focusing on sections of the Maine Interstate that intersect with rare or exemplary wetland communities, and/or public lands and Priority 1 Corridors that intersect with Focus Areas of Statewide Ecological Significance; (2) Conduct Baseline Inventory for vegetation at selected sites, to identify and map native and non-native plants (Year 1 and 2); (3) Conduct Baseline inventory for pollinator species at a subset of surveyed sites, based on an established protocol (Year 2); (4) Create Management Recommendations for the control of invasive plants and revegetation with native species for selected sites; and (5) Incorporate knowledge about species invasiveness and threat to transportation corridors in to Management Recommendations.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Contract to a Performing Organization has not yet been awarded.

Project

  • Status: Active
  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Maine Department of Transportation

    16 Statehouse Station
    Augusta, ME  United States  04333
  • Project Managers:

    Peabody, Dale

  • Start Date: 20160331
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01587430
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Maine Department of Transportation
  • Files: RiP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 26 2016 10:14AM