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Life is a Highway
Author: Raine    Date: 05/21/2015 13:09:56

Saturday, TriSec wrote a blog about the bees. It's alarming, no question about it.

In light of that, two days ago the Obama Administration announced it would take new measures to conquer the bee decline in the United states.
A new federal plan aims to reverse America's declining honeybee and monarch butterfly populations by making millions of acres of federal land more bee-friendly, spending millions of dollars more on research and considering the use of fewer pesticides.

While putting different type of landscapes along highways, federal housing projects and elsewhere may not sound like much in terms of action, several bee scientists told The Associated Press that this a huge move. They say it may help pollinators that are starving because so much of the American landscape has been converted to lawns and corn that don't provide foraging areas for bees.

"This is the first time I've seen addressed the issue that there's nothing for pollinators to eat," said University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum, who buttonholed President Barack Obama about bees when she received her National Medal of Science award last November. "I think it's brilliant."
The question is, will it be enough?

The Administration is also declaring Interstate 35 as a butterfly highway in order to save the beautiful Monarch butterfly.
That’s thanks to President Obama, newfound friend to imperiled pollinators everywhere, and his strategy for protecting the nation’s insects. Among the proposals is a plan to create a pollinator highway along the I-35 corridor, which extends from Mexico to Minnesota and follows a main route for the annual monarch butterfly migration.

The route won’t be indicated by road signs or traffic lights (butterflies see ultraviolet light, so they would probably be confused by the red light-green light distinction). Instead, it’ll be lined with milkweed and other habitat plants, providing refuge and a food source to monarchs on the move. (snip)

And though monarchs seem to have little in common with an I-35 commuter, the highway is actually an ideal way for them to get where they need to be. According to the White House strategy, highways are usually surrounded by low vegetation and lots of sun — perfect butterfly habitat. Its extensive north-south reach also makes it a perfect corridor for migration, whether in response to the changing seasons or as adaption to climate change.

I mentioned in Tri's Blog on Saturday that while the issue of a dwindling honeybee is dangerous to our nations crops, I think we often overlook the native bee. One researcher is creating hotels for them.
“Bee hotels are [there] to provide that habitat. So they’re little tubes so that they can crawl in individually and do their work and live,” Kay Johnson told Kansas TV station KSHB. Johnson is environmental manager of Prosoco, the construction company that built the hotel. (snip)
But Johnson believes it’s worth the effort. Unlike honeybees, which gather in colonies and were imported from Europe centuries ago, most North American bees usually live on their own, according to the New Hampshire Business Review. But it’s a dangerous world for a small, flying arthropod (see: pesticide, habitat loss, hunger) and the 4,000 species of native bees also need a safe place to make their nests. They may not produce honey, but they are still essential to pollinating the nation’s crops, gardens and wildflowers.

“If we can take care of these bees, we can have fruits and vegetables and tomatoes, even if there’s problems with the honeybees,” Johnson said.
More flowers, butterflies and habitat for bees along the nation's highway system might be a beautiful way to save our agriculture's and environment. I may be overly hopeful, but these actions cannot not hurt and perhaps will stem the tide.

You can thank Lady Bird Johnson for getting the ball rolling on this one.
Mrs. Johnson's view of this project went far beyond planting daffodil bulbs. She was concerned with pollution, urban decay, recreation, mental health, public transportation and the crime rate. The Committee agreed to plant flowers in triangle parks all over the city, to give awards for neighborhood beautification, and to press for the revitalization of Pennsylvania Avenue and the preservation of Lafayette Park. The Committee also generated enormous donations of cash and azaleas, cherry trees, daffodils, dogwood and other plants in evidence today in Washington's lovely parks and green spaces. Perhaps most importantly, Mrs. Johnson's effort prompted businesses and others to begin beautification efforts in low-income neighborhoods hidden from the much-visited tourist attractions.

One of her key efforts was an effort to clean up trash and control rats in the Shaw section of Washington. That developed into Project Pride, which enlisted Howard University students and high school students to clean up neighborhoods. Mrs. Johnson funded the project with a $7,000 grant from the Society for a More Beautiful Capital.
One thing I love about traveling in the spring and summer is seeing wildflowers along interstates.

Have a wonderful day!



41 comments (Latest Comment: 05/21/2015 19:45:51 by Mondobubba)
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