LOCUST — Spring is just around the corner, and for hundreds of miles of N.C. highways that means it’s time for wildflowers. This week crews will start to prep wildflower beds along the state’s roadways as part of the North Carolina Wildflower Program. Roadside environmental personnel in each of the fourteen highway divisions across the state will be applying fertilizer to help encourage blooms throughout the summer. According to the NCDOT website, not only do the wild flower beds beautify the state’s roadways, but they also serve as habitats for the state’s dwindling population of bees, hummingbirds and other pollinator species in North Carolina.
The NCDOT’s nationally-recognized Wildflower Program planted its roots in N.C. in 1985 with the support of the state’s first lady Dottie Martin. Ms. Martin, wife of Gov. Jim Martin, read in The Wall Street Journal about a program in Texas to plant wild flowers and approached NCDOT about initiating a similar program to beautify the highways of N.C. A program that started as 12 experimental acres now includes plantings along interstates and primary routes across the Old North State. Revenue from the sale of personalized license plates provides the principle source of funding for the NCDOT Wildflower Program. When someone purchases a personalized plate they are supporting wildflowers and highway beautification with a portion of the extra fee.