Summary of Native landscaping on highway rights of way


Contact Information

Organization: MARC
Contact person: Tom Jacobs
Title: Director, Environmental Programs
Phone: 8167018352
Organization address: 600 Broadway, Suite 200
  Kansas City, MO    64105

General Information

1. Project name: Native landscaping on highway rights of way
2. City(ies), County(ies), State: Missouri and Kansas Departments of Transportation highway rights of way in the Kansas City metro area, along with the associated jurisdictions.
3. Routes, interchanges and/or intersections: All state highway facility rights of way.
4. Primary project mode: Highway/roadway 
5. Supplementary project mode(s): * None )
6. Project Purpose: * Ecosystem Restoration )
7. Project sponsor: Tom Jacobs
8. Total budget in 2019 dollars: $35000000.00
9. Project description: Native vegetation along highway right of way helps accomplish multiple goals: heat island reduction, climate resilience, public health, air and water quality protection. Primary users are motorists using state highways, as well as watershed residents affected by environmental impacts associated with highways.
10. Scope: An estimated 27,487 acres of highway right of way in the MARC region will be revegetated using native landscaping, replacing current monocultural seed mixes of cool season grasses commonly used throughout the region. Native landscaping will save money and improve air quality(by reducing mowing), and provide other climate resilience, aesthetic and environmental benefits. The infiltration capacity of soils clad with native vegetation increases dramatically, offering a solution to excessive runoff generated by transportation facility impervious areas. Additionally, native landscaping can provide critical habitat for Monarch butterflies, an iconic species that is currently under discussion to be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Assuming that there are approximately 27,478 acres of state-managed rights of way, then approximately 1,000 acres would be converted each year during the 30 year period. It is assumed that establishment and maintenance cost is $2000/acre, and that maintenance costs decline substantially after the initial three years. Cost savings from reduced mowing after ten years would offset subsequent financial requirements, with savings allocated to new native landscape establishment. So cost estimations include 10000 acres * $2000/acre, plus a native landscape management crew for both KDOT and MODOT, estimated at $250,000/year. Reestablishment of habitat for monarch butterflies would help organize and mobilize agency and community support for this broad effort, especially given its potentially threatened status under the Endangered Species Act. Initial pilot planting sites would be identified using criteria from the Green Infrastructure Framework to maximize mobility, environmental, public health and quality of life related criteria.
11. Project schedule: This project could be phased to align with other KDOT and MODOT investments and maintenance processes. It is anticipated that at least 10,000 acres will be converted to native landscaping during the coming ten years, with 1,000 acres converted per year. Initial plantings would be sited to maximize pilot and demonstration value, as well as to provide ancillary benefits associated with MetroGreen, flood risk reduction, air and water quality, or other factors.

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600 Broadway, Suite 200
Kansas City, MO 64105
Fax 816/421-7758

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