Iowa DOT News

Fly Away! Six States and FHWA Will Collaborate to Enhance Pollinator Habitat along New Monarch Highway

This news release is being redistributed by the Iowa Department of Transportation as a courtesy to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). 


DES MOINES, IOWA - May, 26, 2016 - Six state departments of transportation and the Federal Highway Administration today signed a memorandum of agreement that will improve pollinator habitat along Interstate 35, a key migratory corridor for Monarch butterflies.

The Obama Administration last year identified the I-35 corridor as a route along which land along the interstate could be developed to increase plants that would provide refuge and food for monarch butterflies and other critically important pollinating insects.

The memorandum of agreement was signed during the AASHTO Board of Directors meeting in Des Moines. Signatories included FHWA Administrator Greg Nadeau and senior executives from Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The agreement establishes "a cooperative and coordinated effort to establish best practices and promote public awareness of the monarch butterfly and other pollinator conservation." The parties also will work together to develop a unified branding for I-35, informally naming it the "Monarch Highway."

"State roadways have acres and acres of habitat ideal for pollinators," said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. "We should strive to build awareness of pollinator needs along the Interstate 35 corridor. With some careful planning, we can ensure that Monarch butterflies and other creatures that pollinate are able to thrive, which ultimately benefits our food sources and us."

Monarch butterflies born in late summer or early fall migrate south to winter in Mexico. In the spring, the butterflies return to the southern U.S. and lay eggs. Successive generations of Monarchs continue moving north which takes them along the I-35 corridor and finally into Canada. These Monarchs begin the cycle over again by completing a 2,000 mile trek back to Mexico.

More on the White House's pollinator strategy is available here,

Contact: Tony Dorsey at [email protected] or 202-412-2391


The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is the “Voice of Transportation” representing State Departments of Transportation in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association serving as a catalyst for excellence in transportation. Follow us on Twitter at


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