Roadside field of lyreleaf sage

Duke Energy grant funds pollinator pathways in Florida’s Big Bend

The Florida Wildflower Foundation (FWF) has received a $11,305 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation that will help build pollinator pathways along roadsides in Florida’s Big Bend region.

A roadside survey will begin in April 2020 to locate populations of native wildflowers and grasses that can be maintained as corridors of pollinator habitat. State and federal roads in Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Suwannee and Taylor counties will be surveyed. The Big Bend counties lie within the Florida Department of Transportation’s District 2.

Duke grant benefits pollinators

Florida’s $12 billion fruit and vegetable and $124 million forestry industries depend on pollination provided bees, butterflies, insects and a variety of animals. Research has shown that providing wildflowers near crops can boost pollination and crop harvest. With proper management, wildflower habitat along roadways can be significantly increased to support the needs of pollinators.

FWF will collaborate with the Florida Department of Transportation’s Central Office and District 2 maintenance personnel, as well as with Duke Energy, which maintains transmission lines along many of the roads. The survey will be based on one conducted by FWF in the region in 2010. Once sites viable for FDOT Wildflower Area designation have been documented in spring, summer and fall, management plans will be written in cooperation with FDOT and Duke Energy.

Survey will identify wildflower sites

“The goal of the survey is to weave together ‘trails’ of pollinator habitat along roadsides in rural areas. We hope to do this by increasing the number of official Wildflower Areas by at least 12 sites,” said Lisa Roberts, Florida Wildflower Foundation executive director. “Once we have the survey completed, we’ll recruit local volunteers to help FDOT as needed to establish the sites and look for other possible candidate areas.”

The project will be led by Dr. Jeff Norcini, who serves as FWF horticulturalist through his firm, OecoHort LLC. The project is expected to be completed by December 2020.