Department of Transportation

Many state DOTs have ongoing efforts to protect and restore monarch and pollinator habitat on their own lands and adjacent areas. The "Monarch Highway" is one such effort, which is a collaboration of state DOTs across the monarch's central flyway. Other state initiatives are also listed below. Read on to find out more about national and state roadside monarch conservation efforts.

What is the Monarch Highway and how did it come to be?

The “Monarch Highway” is a symbolic migration corridor that follows Interstate-35 (I-35) from Laredo, Texas, to Duluth, Minnesota, aligning with the central flyway of the eastern migratory population of the monarch butterfly. The symbolic highway is a partnership effort bringing people together to catalyze conservation actions throughout the central flyway. However, in order to bring back the monarchs, conservation efforts are needed from everyone throughout the entire monarch range. The map below shows monarch migration routes, the approximate route of I-35, and the "Monarch Highway" states.

Monarch Highway Map, base layer courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, modifications by the Monarch Joint Venture.

Who is involved with the Monarch Highway?

I-35 was identified the “Monarch Highway” by the State Departments of Transportation in the central flyway, including Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. However, the effort to conserve monarch butterfly habitat in this corridor extends beyond the roadsides managed by these DOTs. The conservation activities of the agencies, companies, non-profits, and individuals who own and manage land within the corridor can contribute to a network of connected habitat across the landscape for monarchs.

What can I do to help?

The most important action you can take to benefit monarchs and other pollinators is to create or improve habitat that contains native milkweed and wildflowers and develop a long-term maintenance plan for those habitats. Contribute to the Monarch Highway by working with partners to create habitat in your backyard, in marginal weedy areas, at community gardens, on public lands, along utility or transportation rights of way, at schools, on corporate campuses, and just about anywhere else you can think of. For more information about creating habitat for monarchs, visit www.plantmilkweed.org

Your feedback to state and local land management agencies, including DOTs, is encouraged to help support their efforts to expand monarch habitat conservation at roadsides, rest areas and other public land. Your vocal support of these efforts is critical to their work to improve and maintain areas for pollinators on public lands.

The handout below is available for download and printing. You are welcome to download it to learn more, or print it to distribute in your monarch conservation outreach efforts. Click here or on the image of the handout to download a PDF.

Monarch Highway Handout

What are the state DOTs doing to contribute to monarch conservation?

Both within and outside of the “Monarch Highway” states, state Departments of Transportation are working on roadsides, rest areas, and in surrounding habitat areas to conserve monarchs. To find out more about the efforts happening in your state or region, see the links below. This may not be a comprehensive list of all work underway. If you are aware of DOT or roadside conservation initiatives not represented here, please contact us!

State DOTs

More information on state initiatives is to come!

Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) is working to promote pollinator habitat on their roadsides. Find more information about MNDOT's pollinator efforts here.

Kansas

For the past 15 years the Kansas DOT has been planting and protecting pollinator habitat by introducing a wide variety of native wildflowers to their standard seed mixes.  KDOT also revised their mowing policy limiting the frequency and timing of mowing to allow native wildflowers and grasses to set seed and spot spraying of herbicides rather than broad application of chemicals.  In 2016 KDOT joined the Monarch Highway to further promote and protect pollinator habitat along the I-35 corridor.  For more information on KDOT’s pollinator efforts visit their website at http://pollinatorpartners.ksdot.org/ or contact Melissa Davidson, KDOT Bureau of Right of Way, Roadside Vegetation Management, 785-296-0853.

Other resources and information

More resources to come!

Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for Rights-of-Way: Transportation agencies, gas and electric utilities and other energy organizations, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working together to develop a national Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) to help protect and restore monarch and other pollinator habitat in rights-of-way and associated landscapes. Find more information about the Rights-of-Way As Habitat Working Group here.