The Tennessee Department of Transportation received the 2023 Pollinator Roadside Management Award from the North American Pollinator Partnership Campaign for its efforts to enact pollinator-friendly roadside practices statewide.

[Above photo by the Tennessee DOT]

The North American Pollinator Partnership Campaign is one of the largest non-profits in the world dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems.

The organization said it recognized Tennessee DOT for its roadside efforts – alongside those of the Partners for Pollinators Working Group – for improving Tennessee’s roadside maintenance practices. Additionally, both the agency and the Working Group were lauded for their public education efforts and pursuit of partnerships to make an ecological impact.

The Tennessee DOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program and the Partners for Pollinators Working Group is a partnership founded in 2019 between four state agencies – Tennessee DOT, along with the Department of Environment & Conservation, Agriculture, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency – that also includes state universities and nonprofit partners.

“Pollinators are vitally important to Tennessee’s agriculture and economy,” explained Tennessee DOT Commissioner Butch Eley in a statement. “[We are] proud of the work we’ve done, and the work of our partners, in bringing about better management of roadsides and informing the public about the critical threat to pollinators.”

The Tennessee DOT also noted it recently fulfilled all of its initial milkweed seed orders for the inaugural year of Project Milkweed. That project – launched in June 2023 – is a mail-order resource aimed at restoring landscapes and preserving habitats for monarch butterflies and other pollinator species statewide.

The agency said it distributed a total of 779,601 Red Milkweed and Common Milkweed seed packets statewide as of December 27, 2023; fulfilling orders placed by 130,903 state residents.

Tennessee DOT said Project Milkweed will return in June 2024 with another 250,000 milkweed seed packets available free for state residents upon request.