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Wildlife Protection

Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

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Leaf-eating beetle rids Michigan wetland of purple loosestrife

This photo shows a beetle perched on a purple loosestrife leaf. The beetle is eatingand effectively destroyingthe invasive plant.

Exotic and invasive purple loosestrife used to dominate the I-696 wetland mitigation site in Southfield, Michigan. Not anymore. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) restored choked-out native vegetation using the Galerucella beetle as a bio-control agent. The beetle only feeds on purple loostrife and has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a safe and effective way of controlling the pesky plant. To capture the beetles, MDOT staff simply tapped the loosestrife plants with their fingers and let the beetles fall into a container. About 500 beetles were released at the Southfield site in 2005, 1000 in 2006, and 1400 in 2007. More than 99% of the site's purple loostrife was eradicated, and the beetles' work spurred the growth of switch grass, water plantain, monkey flower, and other native wetland plants. Deer, songbirds, and small mammals now thrive on the once-inhospitable landscape. As for the beetles...they devour any new loosestrife growth and leave their tattered hosts for "fresh" stands elsewhere.

Donald Sneed, (517) 335-2944 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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