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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - April 22, 2014

From: Kingsland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Managing Roadsides, User Comments, Wildflowers
Title: Highway construction in wildflower areas from Kingsland TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I see no other link to contact about this, except for you. Maybe you can direct me. I just drove Hwy 281 South and a lot of road construction is being done. For many years that I've noticed, there have been exceptional colors of Indian Paintbrush on the roadsides from Glen Rose to south of Hamilton. There are typically many flowers, even under drought conditions, in shades of deep pink, coral, & lavender, and are very full & healthy. I have photos of past years' flowers and they are gorgeous. A huge toll has been taken on them at this moment, with all of the destruction while widening the highway. There are a few spared patches at this point, but I consider them "endangered" now. I was almost sickened. Why shouldn't the Highway Dept. be required to collect seed for at least 2 years before destroying this special habitat and even roll the sod to use? Something seriously needs to be done here..immediately. Can you help? What can I do, who should I contact? Thank you.

ANSWER:

About this time every year, we get anguished complaints about what is being done to our roadsides in Texas. Here are a website and a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer responding to a couple of those. Much as we hate to admit it, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has no direct role in directing the use of the land around new and/or existing highways. Individuals an area can be much more effective by contacting those in position to make decisions on this subject in their own area.

USDA Forest Service Wildflower Ethics and Native Plants

Previous answer

Our personal observation on this subject is that there is so much pressure for space and land in Texas. There is always support for bringing in new businesses, housing areas, schools, etc., and only so many place where they can go. Then, those moving in to take advantage of those areas must have roads to get there. On local, county and state levels there are ongoing conflicts over finances - in other words, who is going to pay for reseeding a road area or relinquish the desired new road in favor of wildflowers and who benefits in the long run?

More information from the past on this loaded question:

Previous answer from Vilonia AR

Previous answer from Caldwell TX

Previous answer from Houston TX

Previous answer from Lockhart, TX

and on and on......

 

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