What’s Growing On: FDOT pairs with the Florida Museum to increase pollinators

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:01 PM EDT
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CHIEFLAND, Fla. (WCJB) -According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the monarch butterfly population has declined more than 80% across the nation.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the Florida Museum are collaborating to combat it by using retention basins to plant milkweed, and other host plants for native pollinators.

“Most people think of FDOT, most people think of road construction for obvious reasons, that’s what we’re most known for. We are doing everything we can to reach out and help the communities, help the environment, and provide different avenues and resources for local organizations,” Troy Robets, a spokesperson for FDOT said.

So far, 12 areas are dedicated to the project, and organizers plan on expanding to seven or eight more areas every year.

Both the wet and dry basins around North Central Florida have different sets of plants to match them with their most hospitable environment.

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Dr. Jaret Daniels, an entomologist with the Florida Museum, says his vision includes more than just caterpillars.

“It’s a perfect opportunity to augment both host plants- milkweed and blooming plants that can support not only the monarch but insect pollinators and other wildlife. It’s kind of a blank slate, if you will, to enhance habitats that has a lot of benefit and no downside,” Daniels explained.

Roberts said this collaboration keeps Florida beautiful and helps the ecology of the area as well.

“It serves a two-fold effort, it’s also beautiful for motorists and passer-bys, but it also serves a purpose and helps with agriculture and helps the Florida Museum with their mission here,” Roberts said.

Roberts and Dr. Daniels hope to see things fluttering around by summer 2022.

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