Rounds, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Create Monarch and Pollinator Highways
Bill would help revive monarch and pollinator habitat at a time when the population of pollinators—critical to American agriculture—has dangerously declined
WASHINGTON– U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today joined Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) to introduce new, bipartisan legislation to help states create pollinator-friendly habitats along roads and highways. This legislation would help address the steep decline of pollinator populations, which poses a serious threat to American farmers and the American food supply.
“Bees play a vital role in making sure food gets on our table, acting as pollinators for approximately one-third of all agricultural products in the U.S.,” said Rounds. “Our legislation seeks to use innovation and targeted conservation practices to protect and improve bees’ natural habitat so they can continue to provide this essential service and make certain future generations of crops and plants are produced.”
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 nonnative grasses from planting and seeding mixes except for use as nurse or cover crops; or
- Any other pollinator-friendly practices the Secretary of Transportation determines will be eligible.
The bill also requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to help states develop best practices around pollinator-friendly roads and highways. The bill would require DOT to develop and make available to state departments of transportation a prioritization ranking of pollinator-friendly practices on roadsides and highway rights-of-way, and to provide technical assistance to states that request it.
The MPH Act comes as the population of monarch butterflies, honeybees and other pollinators face dangerous declines. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that approximately 35% of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators for survival.