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When letters of praise began pouring in about the planting of wildflowers along Indiana roadsides, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) knew it was doing something right.
In the late nineties, INDOT began an innovative program aimed at beautifying Indiana's roadways, saving taxpayer dollars, lessening the effects of erosion and improving safety -- since workers were not along roadsides mowing as often. The Hoosier Roadside Heritage Program was developed in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Management.
The primary goal of the Roadside Heritage Program is promoting and incorporating native plants and wildflowers into Indiana's roadside landscape. This provides benefits such as:
If you have questions about mowing native plantings or questions about the Hoosier Heritage Program plantings, please contact your local INDOT district office.
The definition of native plants and wildflowers varies, but native plants are generally considered plants present before settlers arrived in the Hoosier state. Plants settlers brought along with them are considered wildflowers. Both plant types are capable of surviving climate extremes in their growing areas. The list of native plants and wildflowers is long and varies from the northern to the southern sections of Indiana. Many books and publications are available to everyone interested in wildflowers and native plants. This information may be found in local libraries, book stores or on the Internet.
Some of the most popular plants used in the program include New England Aster, Butterfly Weed, Gayfeather, Perennial Lupine, Planis Coreopsis and Purple Coneflower. Prairie grasses are also part of the program, and include Little Bluestem, Big Bluestem, Blue Grama and Sideoats Grama.
Farming isn’t typically a challenge state transportation agencies take on – but it’s exactly what the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is doing. To grow wildflowers and native plants along our roadways, we needed seeds. To solve the problem, INDOT established three seed farms located across the Hoosier State.
Creating the seed sites was a unique opportunity and challenge for INDOT employees. A small group of experienced staff members guide the projects. District and subdistrict employees plant, water and weed the seed sites in addition to their existing duties. Many INDOT employees even go above and beyond the call of duty by educating themselves on the plants in their off-duty time. Department of Correction crews also help maintain the seed farms – allowing inmates to gain skills they can use to pursue a horticulture career. With the effort and dedication of everyone involved with the program, the future of Indiana’s Roadside Heritage Program looks bright!
Roadside Services Coordinator-Highway Maintenance
100 N. Senate Ave. IGCN 901
Indianapolis, IN 46204