Good news! Recently the federal Highway Trust Fund was renewed through the FAST Act with the provision encouraging pollinator habitat along roadsides intact (HR 22, Sec 1415). It is encouraging to know that the FAST Act with the Highways BEE Act (HR 2738) included was overwhelmingly approved by both House and Senate and signed into law Friday, December 4, 2015, by President Obama. This means governments will continue to develop more habitat for pollinators, and has funding to do so.
I know you’ll agree with me that our nation’s 17 million acres of highway provide an enormous opportunity to create healthy pollinator habitats and forages along right-of-ways. If you get a chance, send a thank you to the US Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee (EPW) and to Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Jeff Merkley (OR) who sponsored the amendment to the DRIVE Act and to Reps Alcee Hastings (FL) and Jeff Denham (CA) who sponsored the Highways BEE Act. These two acts together will bolster the habitat for our native pollinating species along highway right-of-ways. In doing so, tell them that it will be important that future amendments continue to stress the use of native plants and seed in the development of these lands, since most non-native plants do not offer the same ecosystem value that native plants do for our native pollinators.
You might even send them a link to the latest Mysteries Explored article by Maryann Whitman in the Wild Ones Journal. In this article, Maryann explains that the critical role plants play in nature is supporting food webs, and the difference, based on Doug Tallamy‘s research, between native and non-native plants in supporting the food webs.