Date of Completion
Cristian Schulthess, Robert Ricard
Field of Study
Master of Science
The New England Transportation Consortium commissioned research to find the most effective methods for establishing native plant communities along New England roadsides and document these findings in a manual that would guide state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) efforts to transform their roadside revegetation management practices. These installations would replace the introduced cool-season turf grasses commonly used along highways, which require greater resource inputs and frequent mowing. State DOTs hope that, by transitioning to these more sustainable management practices, they can save on fuel costs, decrease machinery emissions, increase pollinator populations, adapt to changing climates, reduce erosion, and improve storm water soil infiltration. The methods by which we collected information to compose the manual included: literature review; interviews with over 130 specialists in the fields of ecological restoration, native seed production, ecosystem services, and right-of-way vegetation management; and establishment of demonstration plots along U.S. Route 6 in Tolland and Windham Counties in Connecticut. Establishment techniques included the use of no-till drills, hydroseeding, sawdust, and broadcast seeding. In the course of this research, it was discovered that extensive populations of native grasses and sedges currently exist along New England roadsides. Techniques were developed for augmenting these native communities that involved properly timed herbicide applications and decreased mowing regimens. Focus groups with managers from New England DOTs were conducted to determine the barriers that might impede successful transitioning from current roadside revegetation practices. These focus groups revealed that successful implementation required buy-in from upper management, cost-benefit analyses, training programs, and further experimental trials.
Campanelli, John M., "Effective Establishment of Native Plant Communities Along New England Roadsides" (2016). Master's Theses. 933.