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Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

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Planting a few seeds pays off for an endangered butterfly

Karner blue butterfly

The State of Wisconsin supports the largest and most widespread populations of Karner blue butterflies in the world, and the species is endangered because its sole host plant - wild blue lupine - has become scarce. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has joined 22 public and private organizations across the state to preserve existing lupine patches and encourage new lupine growth. For example, in Jackson County the Department seeded an I-94 rest area with lupine and other native prairie plants. Three years later (it takes lupine three years to mature and flower) the area was a solid wall of blue flowers and Karner blue butterflies were everywhere. In addition to planting lupine seeds, the Department has modified its mowing cycles along 500 miles of state highway rights-of-way where the endangered butterfly lives.

Gary Birch, (608) 266-1017 or gary.birch@dot.state.wi.us



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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