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Cleveland County Wildflowers Win NCDOT Award

Flower bed at I-85 Welcome Center Earns State Recognition

Charlotte - Motorists on Interstate 85 heading into North Carolina receive a colorful welcome to the Tar Heel State: deep purple and bright red wildflowers.

The Red Corn Poppies and Purple Larkspur wildflower bed won first place for Best Regional Planting in the state's Western Division during the NCDOT's 2015 Wildflower and Daylily Awards. The wildflower bed, located at the I-85 Cleveland County Welcome Center about two miles north of the state line, blooms with poppies and larkspur in the spring and Mixed Zinnias in the fall.

"I am grateful to be part of such a special program to promote beautification along North Carolina's roadsides," said Division 12 Roadside Environmental Engineer Morgan DeWit. "Our employees work exceptionally hard year-round to make this happen and take pride in the finished product."

Last year, crews in Division 12 (which includes Alexander, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell and Lincoln counties) planted 47 total acres of wildflower beds across the division. This includes three acres of Pollinator Beds to promote local pollinator habitats.

"NCDOT has been planting wildflowers for 30 years," said Don Lee, state roadside environmental engineer. "And the benefit is not simply aesthetic. The flowers help sustain the pollinator population, which is vital to the success of the state's agribusiness community."

In 1985, First Lady Dottie Martin, inspired by an article she had read in The Wall Street Journal about Texas' wildflower program, approached NCDOT about initiating a similar program to beautify the highways of North Carolina. This set the stage for the establishment of the Wildflower Program, which is coordinated by the NCDOT Roadside Environmental Unit. Today, the program has more than 1,500 acres of flower beds across the state.

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2/19/2018 7:48 AM