Evaluate Replacement of Current Post-Construction Groundcover with Pollinator Beneficial Groundcover

The monarch butterfly is arguably one of the most iconic and popular butterflies in North America. Its annual multigenerational migration is considered one of the most spectacular natural phenomena on the planet. Unfortunately, estimates from the overwintering colonies in Mexico have documented a steady population decline over the past few decades and prompted a petition to list the butterfly as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Much attention has focused on the loss of breeding habitat, with recent estimates indicating that 1.8 billion milkweed stems nationwide would be needed to return monarch populations to a more viable size. The Presidential Memorandum Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators and the resulting Pollinator Research Action Plan specifically identify roadsides as priority areas where habitat could be expanded. In response, ODOT has identified, and is currently implementing proactive strategies designed to stabilize and ultimately reverse this population collapse, including converting existing right-of-way to roadside pollinator habitats. Unfortunately, conversion requires significant site preparation to control weed pressure including at least three applications of herbicides spanning up to two calendar years. Some native wildflowers, grasses, and legumes can thrive in poor and compacted soils, are salt-tolerant, and have extensive root systems that range from 5 to 15 feet, lending themselves to being an inexpensive and ideal solution to soil erosion, slips, and slides. By directly seeding new construction projects with pollinator-beneficial wildflowers, native grasses, and legumes, ODOT could (1) Establish hundreds of acres of new pollinator habitat each year benefiting species like the monarch butterfly, the honeybee, and the rusty patched bumble bee, (2) Reduce roadside maintenance costs through mowing and herbicide reduction, and (3) Meet or exceed storm water runoff requirements by creating vegetative bio-filters. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is seeking to create a specification to supplement, or more preferred to replace current post-construction groundcover (Kentucky bluegrass, tall and fine fescue, annual and perennial ryegrass, and the legume crown vetch) with pollinator-beneficial wildflowers, native grasses, and legumes. The objective of this research is to conduct an in-depth analysis of ODOT's current post construction groundcover and provide recommended specifications for native, pollinator beneficial groundcover that are cost effective, conservation minded, and readily available in order to update ODOT's Construction and Material Specification book. The primary objective of this research is to find Ohio native grasses and forbs that can thrive in poor and compacted soils, are highly salt tolerant, provide sediment and erosion control following ground disturbances from construction projects, filter storm water runoff, provide food and nesting habitat to pollinators which will increase their populations, and are aesthetically pleasing.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $851943
  • Contract Numbers:




  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Ohio Department of Transportation

    Research Program
    1980 West Broad Street
    Columbus, OH  United States  43223
  • Project Managers:

    Martindale, Jill

  • Performing Organizations:

    Davey Resource Group

    1500 N Mantua Street
    Kent, OH  United States  44240
  • Principal Investigators:

    Burns, Ana

  • Start Date: 20180829
  • Expected Completion Date: 20230301
  • Actual Completion Date: 20230301

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01678105
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Ohio Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: 32394, 107320, 135779
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Aug 20 2018 11:29AM