Things were abuzz in PennDOT's District 1 this summer when we partnered with the local chapter of Pheasants Forever to hold an awareness event for our pollinator garden and habitat adoption program at the Interstate 90 interchange with Route 8 in Erie County.
Last year, the conservation group adopted a 5.5-acre plot at the interchange in Millcreek Township, Erie County. During fall 2019 and spring 2020, they worked to rid the area of invasive plants and sow a bed of native vegetation. Late this summer, the flowers were blooming and the bees were buzzing, making it the perfect location for the awareness event.
"Pennsylvania is fortunate to have a lot of green space along its highways and roadways, especially in the northwest region," said Brian McNulty, P.E., District 1 Executive. "Through the PennDOT's Adopt and Beautify Program, we can partner with organizations to identify medians and right-of-way areas to host gardens and habitats to bolster our pollinator populations as well as enhance the beauty of our state."
PennDOT's Pollinator Habitat Plan was developed with four goals in mind – plant, protect, partner, and promote. The plan supports efforts to establish, maintain, and increase areas with seasonal native wildflowers and plants that help sustain the state's pollinator species. This is done predominately through partnerships with other conservation-minded organizations.
"We are grateful that Pheasants Forever Chapter 728 stepped up to adopt the plot and help transform it into a beautiful haven for various native flowers and pollinators," said PennDOT District 1 Roadside Specialist Cheryl Wimer.
The Interstate 90 plot was the second adoption in the northwest region. The Corry Garden Club has a small plot on Route 77 in Erie County. The garden features three types of milkweed and a "bee pole".
The statewide adoption program is open to groups of any sort, including clubs, schools, churches, businesses, and families. It requires at least a two-year commit to plant and maintain the designated area. PennDOT offers gloves, safety vests, and garbage bags to groups as needed. Other assistance is given on a case-by-case basis.
"We are excited to see the flowers blooming at the habitat this summer," said Pheasants Forever Chapter 728 president Ed Moss. "Pheasants Forever is proud to partner with PennDOT to make this project a reality. It is our goal to keep it thriving for years to come for the benefit of Erie County residents as well as the environment."