On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a conversation about the success of efforts by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to attract pollinators with roadside sunflowers and other vegetation.
Amanda Novak, a resource specialist in MDOT’s Bay Region, talks about the origins and successes of MDOT’s pollinator program and how the experience of other state departments of transportation (DOT), including North Carolina, inspired the program.
Novak talks about MDOT’s efforts planting sunflowers, dubbed pollinator superheroes, along state highways.
From a 2015 issue of “The Scenic Route,” a publication of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas:
The alarming loss of habitat over the past two decades has left untold millions of bees, butterflies, and other wild pollinators hungry and homeless. The small creatures on which we depend for a significant portion of our food supply have hardly been without their champions; public support for monarch butterflies alone has been estimated in the billions of dollars. Still, the pollinator prognosis remained dire. But over the past 18 months, support for pollinators has undergone a seismic shift, led by President Obama, who called for a national Pollinator Task Force in the spring of 2014. Less than a year later, in a book-length “Strategy to Protect the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators,” the federal government set ambitious goals that include the restoration or enhancement of 7 million acres of land for pollinator habitat over the next five years. Roadsides will comprise a significant portion of that acreage.
Novak also talks about “Show Stopper” wildflowers to be planted at the Port Huron and Coldwater welcome centers. This is a trial year for us to see how the seed does.
A second segment reprises a 2021 conversation with Margaret Barondess, manager of MDOT’s Environmental Section, explaining the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and how it informs Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and DOT decision making.