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Wednesday - April 06, 2005

From: St. Paul, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Managing Roadsides
Title: Information on wildflower programs in cities and states
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am moving to a new town in a few weeks and am interested in starting a program to beautify the community using wildflowers. I've been interested in this for quite some time, but the opportunity hasn't presented itself until now. I'm curious if you would have a list of towns or organizations that have successfully implemented programs like this, as I am currently looking for both examples and advice for how to begin. Also, I understand there are several states that have wildflower programs integrated into their Departments of Transportation. I would appreciate it if you could share any contact information for persons who are involved in the managing these types of programs. Thank you for your help!

ANSWER:

As you may know, our founder Mrs. Johnson, has been a great proponent of using wildflowers along state and interstate right-of-ways. As a direct results of her efforts, many states and the federal government now have programs to encourage and enable wildflower planting along highways and byways. In every state the landscaping of the rights-of-way of federal highways with native wildflowers is being carried out under "Operation Wildflower"and the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act (STURAA) of 1987. STURRA requires that at 1/4 of funds spent on landscaping projects for Federal-aid highways must be used to plant native plants. You can read about some of these programs and their use of wildflowers and see the "1998 Revised Guidance for the Native Wildlflower Planting Requirement" on the page Roadside Use of Native Plants. Many states also have their own wildflower initiatives, for instance: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Tennessee, and Florida. You can find more states with wildflower programs by doing a "Google" search on "state wildlfower programs". Available from the U. S. Dept. of Transportation, Federal Highways Administration (FHWA), Roadside Use of Native Plants by Bonnie L. Harper-Lore and Maggie Wilson is a "glove-compartment size handbook...a reference for those who restore, design, or manage native plants. Its State by State organization of information is a beginning point in decision-making. To make site by site decisions within a State, local expertise will be necessary. This information is aimed at preserving the native remnants that still exist and restoring natural heritage where necessary." Part I (Roadside Restoration and Management Essays) and Part III (Appendices - including Policy, For More Information, and Vegetation Types) are available on line. Part II (Plant and Resource Lists) is not yet available on line. FHWA also has an informative web site addressing Roadside Vegetation Management.

Two notable non-profit groups that are involved in projects to utilize native plants in restoration and beautification projects are Openlands Project and Evergreen. The Openlands Project has information about benefits of natural landscaping and offers "Excerpts from the Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials" (available as a downloadable PDF file on their web page under "cost savings" on the "Benefits" page). This file gives examples of "Natural Landscaping Installations and Maintenance Costs". For another estimate, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency publishes "A Source Book on Natural Landscaping for Public Officials" on line that outlines the economic benefits of using natural vegetation.

Evergreen, a Canadian organization, has an excellent web page with information (including case studies) and links to projects and reports on natural landscaping in urban areas.

On the Wildflower Center web page there are several articles in the Native Plant Library to download in PDF format that you might find useful; for instance, "Planting Wildflowers along Roadsides" and "Landscaping with Native Plants". Also, you can see some Success Stories for private gardens and public grounds on the Wildflower Center web page.
 

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