VDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program Moves Toward Statewide Implementation
DALE CITY—Monarch butterflies appear to flutter carefree with the breeze, but their survival is under constant threat due to dwindling habitats and food supplies.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Dominion Virginia Power teamed up with the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, Native Plant Society and Valley Land on Tuesday to plant more than 8,000 pollinator-friendly plants at the Dale City Rest Area on Interstate 95 north in Northern Virginia. This project is part of VDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program, which aims to create “waystations” or refuges for Monarch butterflies and other threatened pollinators.
“We have been working with experts to enhance our understanding and knowledge of pollinator needs and habitats over the past year,” said VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “We’re incorporating what we’ve learned into projects that will protect these crucial habitats for butterflies and other pollinators.”
Pollinators such as butterflies and bees are necessary for growing crops, but their population has been steadily declining. Waystations filled with pollinator-friendly plants like milkweed provide those species the environment needed for survival.
The Dale City project features a 15,000 square-foot meadow restoration, along with two smaller plantings near the rest area building which will serve as educational stations with interpretive signage for visitors. It is expected the habitat will become naturalized over the next few years.
Three other new pollinator habitats have been seeded with native plants this month in southwestern Virginia. A Scott County site will be seeded in the spring, through a partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
VDOT provided project management, site preparation, and volunteers for the Dale City project. Dominion Virginia Power provided volunteers, and Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy provided additional technical expertise. Valley Land provided mulch for the project area.
“We owe it to our children and their great grandchildren to leave our planet in the wonderful condition in which we inherited it. That means we all must do everything we can to insure that the Monarch Butterfly, in all its splendor, will be around forevermore,” said Carolyn Moss, Dominion senior policy advisor for federal, state and local affairs.
“With its thousands of miles of medians and roadsides, VDOT is uniquely positioned to be a leader in monarch and pollinator recovery,” said Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy President Nicole Hamilton. “This project is a wonderful example of the plants and habitat that is needed to bring back the Monarchs, bees and other pollinators.”