Native pollinators, such as monarch butterflies and bumblebees, are in decline. The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) seized an opportunity to add pollinator planting to five rest areas along Interstate I-29. SDDOT selected IMEG to assist in creating and managing pollinator habitat on state-owned land within the monarch butterfly migration route. SDDOT’s goal was to create a pollinator habitat with native species that bloom throughout the growing season.
IMEG provided design review, construction management, monitoring, and land management plans for 54 acres. The project is spread across 5 rest areas along 175- mile stretch of Interstate I-29. The planting plan review provides modifications to the planting list based on species availability and site topography. IMEG was responsible for developing construction plans with the contractor to locate boundaries, fence, and vegetation management plans. Construction management includes site observation of site preparation, planting, and fence installation. IMEG land management program consists of monthly inspections, plant inventories, vegetation evaluation using Floristic Quality Assessment, developing seasonal maintenance plans over the three-year establishment period.
Project challenges included:
- Weather events influence the planting schedules and maintenance activities
- Varying landscape types and terrain of the site affected maintenance equipment operations
- Balancing management techniques that will not harm Monarch butterfly and controlling weeds.
Communication with the contractor and SDDOT maintenance was key in overcoming the challenges of the project. Mobile weather apps provided field personnel the ability to predict the path of incoming weather and make timely decisions in the field.
Researching and understanding the growth habits of the native plants provided insights into the use of herbicides and the timing of maintenance activities.