The pollinator habitat effort is an extension of the popular NCDOT Wildflower Program focusing on sustaining the state’s strong agribusiness community. The NCDOT Roadside Environmental Unit is establishing pollinator habitats across the state. By utilizing land along the right-of-way to plant specific species of flowers, NCDOT is able to provide habits for the dwindling pollinator population and enhance the traveling experience.
Starting in April, crews will seed for beds of pollinator friendly and visually appealing plants. The roadside effort will utilize the same planting techniques, equipment and agronomic protocols associated with the Wildflower Program.
NCDOT will plant hybrid sunflowers and canola with the objective to work in partnership with industry leaders to make the pollinator habitat project self-sustaining. These are extremely pollinator friendly species and popular with the traveling public.
Pollinators are crucial to the success of North Carolina’s $78 billion agricultural economy. Up to a third of the food that we eat can be directly attributed to the work of pollinators. According to the USDA-NRCS, habitat loss, disease and environmental changes have contributed to the decline of pollinators. The best way to reverse this is a multi-step approach to support pollinators by expanding and protecting habitats.
NCDOT partnered with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to make 2015 the “Year of the Pollinator.” In addition, sponsors are joining in the effort. Bayer CropScience has pledged $100,000 to NCDOT to establish these pollinator habitats along state roadways and the Bayer CropScience’s Bee Care Program will monitor the roadside plantings to determine the diversity of pollinator species that forage and collect pollen.