Pollinator Habitat Program

VDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program creates naturalized areas planted with native nectar and pollinator plant species along state-maintained roadways, within rest areas and park and rides. The goals of the program are to:

  1. Provide habitat areas for threatened and dwindling pollinator species such as bees and butterflies.
  2. Reduce maintenance costs by reducing mowing and other vegetation costs, such as invasive species control and herbicide applications.
  3. Decrease erosion and stormwater runoff while providing sediment control, using fewer pesticides and increasing aesthetics.

Pollinators — including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies — contribute substantially to the U.S. economy and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts and vegetables in our diets by moving pollen from one part of the flower of a plant to another, or from one plant to another, to fertilize the flower. 

Only fertilized flowers can make fruit and/or seeds. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant decrease in pollinators. Waystations filled with pollinator-friendly plants provide those species the environment needed for survival.  

The Pollinator Habitat Program started with four plots in 2014, three at park and rides and one at a Safety Rest Area on Interstate 95 southbound near Dale City. A large meadow was added to the northbound side in 2015. Area medians and roadsides in the Bristol District were seeded with native pollinator and grass species in the fall of 2015. New gardens are planned for 2016.

Pollinator Habitats Aid Transportation Priorities

  • Wildflower perennials and grasses are not favored by deer, which helps keep them and motorists out of harms way.
  • Mowing only the shoulder allows a line of sight for motorists, space for them to pull off and prevents the intrusion of shrubs and trees. It also reduces maintenance costs.
  • Native vegetation stabilizes slopes and reduces erosion. Their deep roots also decrease stormwater runoff.
  • Native plants defend against invasive species, reducing the costs of removing problem vegetation. They also reduce the use of herbicides and protect against erosion.

Group works on planting pollinator program plants.What’s Next? 

The program will continue to grow throughout the state, focusing on naturalized gardens and meadows at state rest areas for the next few years. 

Seeding projects will take place in several VDOT districts in an effort to test various seed mixes and planting methods to see what works best.

 Interpretive signage is in development for existing areas in an effort to educate the public about the program, its purpose and how to help.

Current Partners

Our partners have provided technical expertise, on-site volunteers to help with planting, materials such as mulch and many other services.


pollinaor and wildflower platesSupport the Program with a Wildflower or Protect Pollinators License Plate

The Pollinator Habitat program is funded through the purchase of the Wildflower and Protect Pollinators license plates.

Learn more

DMV info on pollinator license plates

Presidential Memo: Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden

USDA Forest Service: Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden Using Native Plants

USDA Forest Service: Gardening for Pollinators

Pollinator-Friendly Plants for the Northeast United States



Page last modified: Jan. 29, 2019