The New England Transportation Consortium funded research to move the capacity of native plant establishment along roadsides from 2013-2016. This work trialed seed mixes and methods for establishment and developed a manual with 39 key species for the region identified. Various protocols for site preparation, seeding, and post establishment monitoring and maintenance were also provided. Following this work, a series of next steps were identified as critical for effective implementation. The most important step was the development of local seed sources, which are currently absent in the region. The shift towards planting native plants along roadsides has multiple benefits including: natural defense for invasive plants, habitat for common and rare pollinator species, and the potential to reduce maintenance needs over time. Pollinators play an important role in this country’s agricultural system as well as in maintaining healthy natural ecosystems.
The problem at hand in the New England is the lack of a native seed mix to use in the roadside habitat that includes important species for pollinators. Also, we do not have a consolidated library of best management practices for roadside management to promote pollinators that apply directly to the climate and conditions in the New England.
This project will include two main efforts. First, it will investigate and develop a list of currently available resources for native seed and plant stock throughout the New England region to understand what is currently available. The study will focus on the list of plant species identified in the 2016 New England Transportation Consortium (NETC) study by the University of Connecticut, “Effective Establishment of Native Grasses on Roadsides in New England” (NETC, 2016), as they are known to suitable to the region and are valuable to pollinators throughout the entire growing season of New England. Once an understanding of what is/is not available, the study will look at ways to increase availability of seeds throughout New England. The study will use gathered information on seed stock to draft a plan for developing a native seed source or sources appropriate for use along New England roadsides. The project would also include proof of concept for developing capacity for local seed source and production for the region.
Technical Committee Members
- TC Chair: Arin Mills, New Hampshire Department of Transportation
- Adam Boone, Connecticut Department of Transportation
- Tara Mitchell, Massachusetts Department of Transportation
- Rebecca Martin, New Hampshire Department of Transportation
- Susan Votta, Rhode Island Department of Transportation
- Heather Voisin, Vermont Agency of Transportation
AC Liaison: Dee Nash, New Hampshire Department of Transportation
Project Coordinator: Kirsten Seeber, CTC & Associates