It is expected that the Highways BEE Act will be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives during National Pollinator Week (NPW), on Thursday, June 23.
The VBA has signed the following letter in support of this proposed legislation.
The undersigned support the Highways Bettering the Economy and Environment Act (Highways BEE Act).
The Highways BEE Act proposes significant economic and conservation benefits that can be achieved through integrated vegetation management (IVM) practices on Federal and state highway right-of-ways (ROWs) managed by State Departments of Transportation (DOTs). These areas represent about 17 million acres of opportunity where significant reductions in mowing and maintenance can reduce costs for cash-strapped State DOTs.
Reductions in roadside mowing, combined with enhanced plantings of native forbs and grasses, can provide economic benefits, reduced carbon emissions, and critical habitat for pollinators, ground nesting birds and other small wildlife. Pollinators, such as bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, are essential to healthy ecosystems and are vital partners in American agriculture. Pollinators are suffering drastic population loss, due in part to loss of habitat.
Landscape improvement through native plants has the added benefit of providing resistance to invasive plants, reduced fire danger, and more scenic highways. Roadside native plantings have the added benefit of being less attractive to mega-fauna, like deer and elk, than fescue and other non-native grasses currently found on most roadsides. Mega-fauna are the fastest growing cause of costly vehicle accidents. In addition, neighboring agricultural lands and wildlife ecosystems will benefit from improved pollination services.
This legislation supports and builds on innovative IVM efforts in a growing number of State DOT’s by directing the Secretary of Transportation to use existing authorities, programs and funding to encourage and facilitate efforts by States and other transportation ROWs managers, to adopt IVM practices, including reduced mowing and enhanced native plantings that provide multiple fiscal, safety and aesthetic benefits while also promoting habitat and migratory corridors for pollinators, ground nesting birds and other small wildlife
Other groups which have signed on:
American Beekeeping Federation
American Farmland Trust
American Honey Producers Association
Blue Diamond® Growers
Isaac Walton League of America
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
National Audubon Society
National Bobwhite Technical Committee
National Farmers Union
National Gardening Association
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
The Conservation Fund
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
United Fresh Produce Association
Waste Management, Inc.
For further information contact:
R. Thomas (Tom) Van Arsdall, Pollinator Partnership Director of Public Affairs
Van Arsdall & Associates Inc.
ph: (703) 509-4746