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The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials sent a two-page letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior on March 12 supporting “expedited approval” of the voluntary national Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances or CCAA to further encourage the creation of pollinator habitats in highway rights-of-way – especially where the Monarch butterfly (seen above) is concerned.

“The regulatory protections provided by this CCAA allow transportation agencies to continue vegetation management practices with less concern that these actions will lead to an increase in the costs of regulatory compliance if the monarch is listed under the Endangered Species Act,” the organization said in its letter.

Photo by MoDOT

“We see the CCAA as advancing … guidance developed by the Federal Highway Administration on practices to support pollinator habitat,” it added.

“The CCAA creates certainty for agencies managing linear rights-of-way that if they continue or adopt practices that benefit monarch butterflies, they will not need to take additional actions to comply with the Endangered Species Act if the monarch is listed,” AASHTO added.

Pollination activity helps produces nearly $24 billion worth of products annually in the United States – which includes apples, blueberries, pumpkins, and other agricultural products – and state departments of transportation are actively engaged in ways to support species of ants, butterflies, beetles, and other wildlife that are responsible for helping pollinate more than 80 percent of the world’s flowering plants.

“This agreement is important [because] transportation agencies generally maintain low vegetation in the operational rights-of-way as a cost-effective method of providing safe roads for the traveling public,” the organization said.

“A byproduct of that management is that low vegetation is often good or great pollinator habitat,” it added.

editor@aashto.org

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