Roadside Resiliency - Pollinator Program

Artwork of monarch butterflies and milkweed plant species

Pollinator Habitat along Highway Corridors

Life on earth depends on pollinators. Whether we know it or not, we all have a vital connection to pollinators that are mostly insects like bees and butterflies. We know that wildlife and livestock depend largely upon pollinated plants, but also, our own agriculture and human diet rely heavily upon pollinating insects. More than two-thirds of our crop species, including fruit, vegetable, spice, nut, and oil seed crops, are dependent upon pollinators.

Unfortunately, rapid and continual pollinator declines put everything at risk. Beekeepers report that they are losing 30 percent to 40 percent of their hives every year. Less well-known are the drastic declines in native North American pollinator populations. Over 25 percent of North America’s bumble bees may face extinction, and monarch butterfly populations have declined by more than 80 percent worldwide, mainly due to loss of breeding and feeding habitat.

Fortunately, an increasing number of people and interest groups are becoming aware of these alarming pollinator statistics, are taking action, and committing their talents and efforts to reversing this disturbing trend.

Procedural Directive #503.1 directs CDOT to protect pollinator habitat along certain state highway corridors through its Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Program. It also instructs CDOT and all contractors to use only native grasses, forbs, and shrubs in new projects as of July 20, 2018. Approval must be obtained from CDOT Landscape Architects to use non-native plants. 

CDOT Landscape Specialist Liia Koiv-Haus wrote an article called Making Space for Pollinators for The Field, a blog for the ASLA's Professional Practice Network. The post discusses strategies to protect pollinators through landscape architecture and land use planning.

Pollinator Resources: How You Can Get Involved

Colorado Pollinator Network
Colorado Pollinator Network (CPN) is a collaboration between organizations working together to conserve, protect, and create pollinator habitat and to educate communities across Colorado to protect our pollinators. We share best practices, research, resources and knowledge to support this mission. Our vision is for CPN to make Colorado a model state for collaboration on the protection of pollinators.

People and Pollinators
The People & Pollinators Action Network (PPAN) was born in late 2014 from the modest aim of public policy reform addressing the misapplication of pesticides. In the last three years their efforts have yielded new protections for Colorado’s pollinators and important lessons that will help shape our strategy in the future.

Xerces Society
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. The name is taken from the now extinct Xerces Blue butterfly (Glaucopsyche xerces), the first butterfly known to go extinct in North America as a result of human activities. Programs focus on habitat conservation and restoration, species conservation, protecting pollinators, contributing to watershed health, and reducing harm to invertebrates from pesticide use.

Pheasants Forever
Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education, and land management policies and programs which influence quality and quantity of upland habitat—which also supports pollinator species. Since forming in 1982, Pheasants Forever has created or enhanced wildlife habitat on more than 15.8 million acres across the US and Canada. With a network of more than 700 chapters and 149,000 members, they accomplish thousands of wildlife habitat projects annually.