Enhancement of highways, scenic byways, and welcome centers across the State of Louisiana is critical for tourism and eventual economic development of the state. Managing roadsides and welcome centers require a large amount of taxpayers' money each year. Using native plant materials in highway enhancement and beautification of welcome centers has become a promising alternative to lowering maintenance costs while enhancing highway beautification across the United States. Many DOT's are turning to the use of plant material in their highway enhancement and beautification projects across the nation.
A grant from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LaDOTD) in the amount of $1.7 million was awarded to the Department of Renewable Resources to develop a Wildflower Seed Bank. This repository will be housed at the former creamery building located in the Ira Nelson Horticulture Center complex. The specific objectives of this project are:
(1). To identify, collect and multiply seeds of selected Louisiana wildflower plant species suitable for Highway Beautification, Welcome Centers, State Parks and tourism promotion.
(2) To establish a seed bank of selected wildflower species.
(3) To conduct research on selected wildflower seed establishment and weed management.
(4) To train LaDOTD staff and volunteers in wildflower management.
Wildflower seeds of local ecotypes will be collected and processed for storage at the Wildflower Seed Bank to maintain viability and enhance germination. Remnant-collected seeds will be direct-seeded into one to three acre seed plots located at the Model Sustainable Agricultural Complex (MSAC) in Cade, Louisiana. Seed will then be distributed to LaDOTD for planting along roadside right-of-ways.
This statewide project is a collaboration of three universities that will target three eco-regions of the Louisiana. UL Lafayette, University of Louisiana at Monroe (UL Monroe) and Southeastern Louisiana University (SLU) will collect and generate seed from the southwestern, northern and southeastern regions of Louisiana, respectively.
Potential sites for stock collection include roadsides, railroad corridors, public natural areas, cemeteries, and private lands. Wildflower species that UL Lafayette has collected include plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria), clasping leaf coneflower (Dracopis amplexicaulis), and wild petunia (Ruellia pedunculata). UL Monroe plans to collect seed of lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), blazing star (Liatris spicata) and black eyed susan (Rudbeckia grandiflora). Southeastern Louisiana University will begin its seed collection with plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria). Each university will maintain a log of location and species collected.
With the help of LaDOTD and other collaborating agencies and institutions, wildflower research and demonstration sites will be selected (e.g. state parks welcome center, scenic byways and highways). Specific research hypotheses such as erosion control, seed germination and establishment and noxious weed control will be formulated and tested.
Under the guidance of LaDOTD, each university will conduct several training sessions on wildflower identification, management and planting in their respective regions. LaDOTD staff, with the assistance of the universities, will develop a rigorous highway enhancement outreach program that will include statewide meetings, website development, brochures, signs and publications.
Currently LaDOTD has a website for reporting wildflowers
seen in the state, www.dotd.state.la.us.
At the LaDOTD site go to Programs and Projects, click on
Programs then on to Wildflower Inventory to report wildflowers.
If you would like to participate in our seed seekers program
or have any questions, please contact Jim Foret at (337)482-6064