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Title: Promoting Native Roadside Plant Communities and Ensuring Successful Vegetation Establishment Practice
Contact: Bridget M. Donaldson
Project No.: 118543
Target Date: 03/15/2023
Abstract: Loss of vegetation due to roadside activities can lead to erosion and increased sediment load in stormwater ponds. Current VDOT procedures regarding approved seed blends and establishment practices have led to inconsistent vegetation establishment and are heavily reliant on exotic species. Growing concerns regarding the threat of exotic, invasive species has led groups such as the Federal Highway Administration, VA Departments of Conservation and Environmental Quality, and partnerships such as Blue Ridge Prism to question the use of exotic seed blends on Virginia roadsides.  The purpose for this study is to (1) identify and document procedural improvements for successful roadside vegetation establishment and (2) propose candidate native seed blends that promote native roadside plant communities and improved vegetation establishment success at sites disturbed by highway projects or maintenance activities.  This project aims to assess and compile plant communities with respect to native and exotic forbs and grasses on various Virginia roadsides, across ecoregions, and temporally during the growing season.  These plant community data, along with a review of departmental procedures and literature regarding native plant establishment on roadsides, will be used to develop candidate seed mixtures that promote native plants while offering cost, safety, and infrastructure preservation competitive with current practices.  The plant community assessment will also be used to determine the base-line population distribution of milkweed species along Virginia roadways.  

     Shawn Askew
     Mike Goatley
     Bridget M. Donaldson