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Wildlife Protection

Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

Featured Project

"Special Management Areas" Preserve Endangered Butterfly Habitat

photo of Fender's blue butterfly

Along a 1-mile stretch of King's Valley Highway in Oregon's Willamette Valley, a simple management tool is preserving the habitat of a butterfly once thought to be extinct. The tool? "Special Management Areas," or SMAs. The butterfly? Fender's blue. Like the 60 other SMA sites in Oregon Department of Transportation's statewide program, the Fender's blue SMAs display coded-matrix signs telling Department maintenance crews what kinds of activities can be done there and when. For example, they're instructed to do late-season vegetation management (mowing and pruning). This strategy is designed to preserve Kincaid's lupine and sickle-keeled lupine--the host plants on which the butterfly depends. The strategy works like a controlled burn, mimicking the disturbance of fires that once scoured the upland prairie, removing underbrush and allowing the adaptable lupines and native vegetation to flourish. On the Fender's blue sites along King's Valley Highway, SMA-directed activities have paid off in healthy populations of the lupine and its endangered butterfly.

Nicholas Testa, (541) 757-4155 or

Picture of various animals

Doing the right thing - simply

"Keeping it simple" is more than a concept. It's a commitment.

It means using simple solutions when simple solutions will work.

It involves going beyond "compliance" to identify easy ways of helping wildlife and fish.

It means doing the right thing just because it's the right thing to do and because one has an opportunity to do it.

"We can build bat roosts in pre-fab bridge concrete or extend the right-of-way fence to create elkproof fencing," says April Marchese, Director of FHWA's Office of Natural and Human Environment. "Simple measures like these link habitats, reduce roadkill, and save taxpayer dollars."

This website highlights more than 100 simple, successful projects from all 50 states and beyond. Each is "easy." Most are low- or no-cost. All benefit wildlife, fish, or their habitats.

Many projects were completed only once - to protect specific species in specific environmental conditions. Others have been repeated numerous times and have become "routine."

Some projects are undertaken regularly because research has proven them effective. Others are new innovations, "best practices," or state-of-the-art strategies.

Some projects - for example, modifying mowing cycles and installing oversized culverts in streams - are common to a large number of states. Others represent a simple solution to a site-specific environmental challenge.

We invite you to explore them all. We encourage you to find out for yourselves, through this website, how transportation professionals are working with others to do the right thing for wildlife and--wherever possible--to do it "simply."

Updated: 12/12/2012
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