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Managing rights-of-ways for monarchs and other pollinators can reduce maintenance costs, control safety hazards, and improve water quality. Photo by Ashley Danielson/USFWS.

Managing rights-of-ways for monarchs and other pollinators can reduce maintenance costs, control safety hazards, and improve water quality. Photo by Ashley Danielson/USFWS.

The road to ensuring a future filled with monarchs

Managing rights-of ways for monarchs and other pollinators is part of the ‘all hands on deck’ conservation to ensure a future filled with monarchs. The Illinois Department of Transportation has recently joined a growing list of government allies to the monarch butterfly by adjusting its mowing routine along state highways.

Going forward, Illinois Department of Transportation crews will mow only 15 feet on either side of state roadways. Exceptions will be made when necessary for motorist sitelines and to control invasive species. By reducing the amount of land being mowed, Illinois Department of Transportation hopes to encourage the growth of critical plant species, such as milkweed, the only food source for monarch caterpillars.

“As one of the largest land owners in the state, Illinois Department of Transportation appreciates its tremendous responsibility to act as stewards of the environment,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “This simple change in our maintenance obligations will have little impact on the traveling public, but will give a big assist to Mother Nature at no cost to the state.”
In the coming months, Illinois Department of Transportation will be monitoring roadsides to determine if the approach is working.  In recent months, IDOT has taken other measures to restore native habitat along state highways, including a prairie restoration project on U.S. 45 near Champaign.

We commend Illinois Department of Transportation for their recent action to protect this iconic insect and its awe-inspiring migration. This approach maintains Illinois Department of Transportation’s high standards for highway public safety, while enhancing monarch habitat. Actions like these show Illinois’ commitment to their official state insect.

As we continue to take action to protect monarch butterflies, forming partnerships with transportation and energy is necessary. For example, as part of the Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group we collaborate and share ideas, best practices, and other information to promote successful habitat projects along rights-of-way. We are focused on fostering interactions, finding innovative approaches and working together on solutions.

For additional information on monarch rights-of-way, visit our Save the Monarch website: https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/rights-of-way.html

Press release by the Illinois Department of Transportation, May 15, 2017, available on the Illinois.gov website.

Mara Koenig
Regional Office - External Affairs

Right-of-ways are playing a critical role in maintaining a beneficial relationship between native pollinators, native plants, and energy and transportation. Photo by Ryan Hagerty/USFWS.

Right-of-ways are playing a critical role in maintaining a beneficial relationship between native pollinators, native plants, and energy and transportation. Photo by Ryan Hagerty/USFWS.

 

Last updated: June 7, 2017