An Integrated Approach to Establishing Native Plants and Pollinator Habitat


1.4 Scope

The complexity of ecologically sensitive road design, implementation, and maintenance will require increasing cooperation from multiple sectors of society and multiple fields of practice and expertise. This report should be of interest not only to field-level practitioners and project designers in both public and private sectors, but also to transportation and planning professionals; land managers; policy-makers; owners and operators of roads on county, state, and federal scales; and concerned citizens. Any agency or organization involved in altering, developing, operating, maintaining, or decommissioning roads will find this publication useful. This report is especially intended to serve field-based practitioners and planners of diverse backgrounds whose goal is to establish locally appropriate, low-maintenance native plant communities on roadsides.

Because integration of multiple sources of expertise is necessary for effective long-term revegetation, this report does not assume that the designer has a particular specialized background but more, a broad level understanding of such disciplines as botany, plant propagation, soil science, genetics, entomology, landscape architecture, and engineering. The designer may be one of these specialists and may involve one or more of these other specialists during the planning process, depending on the project's complexity. The report states where specific expertise may be required. Key information specifically for designers or contractors and key milestones for communication and integration between engineers and non-engineers are highlighted.

The approach in this report is applicable to any type of road-related project that involves disturbances to soil and vegetation. Revegetation of roadsides adjacent to dirt, gravel, and paved roads would involve similar processes, although differences in scale and intensity of efforts would be required. This report applies to new construction or reconstruction and modifications of existing roadways. The principles and practices are also applicable in revegetating other drastically disturbed sites with similar limiting factors to roadsides, such as utility gas, oil, or powerline rights-of-way and mine reclamation projects.

This report focuses on opportunities for integration during road construction or modification. Long-term maintenance and management of established roadsides is discussed briefly, with references to related management practices and guidelines such as Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) (Berger 2005). Roads must be made more permeable to natural flows of water, animals, and plants to help mitigate the ecological effects of the road. Efforts to improve habitat connectivity and road permeability, as well as storm-water drainage and created wetlands, can be supported by the revegetation practices described in this report. However, specific mitigations for these important topics are beyond the scope of this publication. Also beyond the scope are the myriad other potential ecological and social issues that affect, and are affected by, the engineering and transportation planning processes. Issues of social justice and community planning are not addressed. Larger policy-making and planning procedures are also beyond the scope of this report.