Cost-effective roadside revegetation methods to support insect pollinators

Pollinators such as native bees, including the federally-endangered rusty-patch bumble bee (Bombus affinis), and Monarch butterflies are at risk due to the loss of native habitats from increasing development, intensive agricultural practices, and greater use of pesticides. Roadside habitats, in particular, have grown in importance as they can provide habitat and act as migratory corridors. The objective of this project is to identify cost-effective roadside vegetation management practices that enhance pollinator habitat. We propose vegetation management case studies that may include plant surveys (e.g., smooth brome grass), pollinator surveys, milkweed and plant surveys to determine best uses of various seeds and optimal locations for plants and maintenance operations. We also propose research that will collaborate with Washington County Natural Resource Coordinator and County Engineer to identify improved roadside maintenance practices such as: timing of mowing (for example, alternate years, half of the ROW, etc.); timing of haying to benefit plant species that benefit pollinators, including milkweed for monarchs. In addition, we propose that the research uses current Minnesota Land Cover Classification System to evaluate how landscape factors such as surrounding agriculture and affects pollinator habitat and pollinator communities along roadsides. Finally, we propose that this research be disseminated to roadside vegetation managers through workshops and conferences.