Senators introduce pollinator highway bill |

Senators introduce pollinator highway bill

Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Tom Carper, D-Del., and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., today introduced legislation to help states create pollinator-friendly habitats along roads and highways to address the steep decline of pollinator populations, which they said poses a serious threat to American farmers and the American food supply.

“As monarch and honeybee populations decline precipitously, we don’t just risk losing these beautiful creatures — we also face an existential threat to American agriculture and our food supply,” said Merkley. “Every state already contains thousands of miles of green space around roads and highways. If we transformed just a fraction of this land back to natural pollinator habitat, we could make a real difference to pollinator populations. This is a bipartisan, common-sense idea that the Senate should adopt without delay.”

Specifically, the Monarch and Pollinator Highway (MPH) Act of 2019 would establish a federal grant program available to state departments of transportation and Indian tribes to carry out pollinator-friendly practices on roadsides and highway rights-of-way.

MPH Act grants could be used for:

▪ The planting and seeding of native, locally appropriate grasses, wildflowers, and milkweed;

▪ Mowing strategies that promote early successional vegetation and limit disturbance during periods of highest use by target pollinator species;

▪ Implementation of an integrated vegetation management approach to address weed and pest issues;

▪ Removing non-native grasses from planting and seeding mixes except for use as nurse or cover crops; or

▪ Any other pollinator-friendly practices the Transportation secretary determines will be eligible. F

–The Hagstrom Report

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