Motorists urged to stay alert and slow down when encountering crews
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation is reminding the public that seasonal mowing operations have resumed throughout the state. Motorists should be prepared to slow down, put down the devices, avoid all distractions and proceed with caution when encountering mowing equipment and personnel.
In recent years, IDOT has revised its mowing practices to help create and maintain habitat for pollinators, including the monarch butterfly, the official state insect of Illinois since 1975 and at risk of being declared endangered. Pollinators play a vital role in the Illinois ecosystem and agricultural economy by aiding in reproduction of flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Last year, IDOT began following the Illinois Monarch Project Mowing Guidelines for Pollinators, establishing the most extensive mowing period from July 1 to Aug. 15. Currently, in addition to roadsides, standard maintenance mowing is taking place as needed around culverts, ditches, traffic control devices and other IDOT structures.
By timing when mowing takes place and reducing the amount of land being mowed, IDOT is encouraging the growth of critical plant species, such as milkweed, the only food source for monarch caterpillars.
For its efforts, IDOT has won national honors from several organizations, including Pheasants Forever and the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.