Section 11528, “Pollinator-Friendly Practices on Roadsides and Highway Rights-of-Way,” offers grants to states, tribes, and federal land management agencies to support pollinators. The bill non-exhaustively lists several pro-pollinator practices eligible for funding:
- practices relating to mowing strategies that promote early successional vegetation and limit disturbance during periods of highest use by target pollinator species… such as reducing the mowing swatch outside of the State-designated safety zone, increasing the mowing height, reducing the mowing frequency, refraining from mowing monarch and other pollinator habitat during periods in which monarchs or other pollinators are present, use of a flushing bar and cutting at reduced speeds to reduce pollinator deaths due to mowing, or reducing raking…;
- implementation of an integrated vegetation management plan that includes approaches such as mechanical tree and brush removal, targeted and judicious use of herbicides, and mowing, to address weed issues…;
- planting or seeding of native, locally appropriate grasses and wildflowers, including milkweed…;
- removing nonnative grasses from planting and seeding mixes, except for use as nurse or cover crops;
- obtaining expert training or assistance on pollinator-friendly practices… [H.R. 3684, Section 11528, Congressional Record: Senate, S5304, 2021.08.01].
Pollinator grants would come with no local cost-sharing requirement. The grants would be capped at $150,000, and the bill appropriates for these grants just $2 million each fiscal year for five years. So if every grant applicant sought maximum funding, Section 11528 would only cover 60-some pollinator projects.
Another section of the bill, 11522, the Invasive Plant Elimination Program, prioritizes grants intended to remove invasive plants that use “native plants and wildflowers, including those that are pollinator-friendly” and raises the federal cost share for invasive plant elimination grant projects from 50% to 75% for such projects.
Senator Mike Rounds has told us that pollinators are essential for agriculture. Bees and butterflies also contribute to a healthy pheasant population. These pro-pollinator provisions are thus one more way that the bipartisan compromise infrastructure bill is a good investment in South Dakota’s economy.