Cutting Back on Mowing 390 in Livingston County Wins Environmental Excellence Award

LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Letting wildflowers and grasses grow in the 390 corridor won an Environmental Excellence award from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

According to a press release from the DEC, the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) Region 4 and Seneca Park Zoo Society’s Pollinator Protection Project is among six projects awarded. The DEC considers allowing flowers and grass to grow an important step in protecting native pollinators like bees and butterflies.

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“We strive to build and maintain our transportation system with an eye towards reducing impacts to the natural environment in keeping with Governor Cuomo’s commitment to protecting nature and wildlife in New York State,” said State Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Cathy Calhoun. “The simple act of delaying mowing along our ‘Butterfly Beltway’ encourages growth in the monarch butterfly population and protects pollinator food sources, keeping the I-390 corridor in sync with the surrounding landscape.”

The release said that in 2015, DOT Region 4, which includes Mount Morris and Geneseo, modified the mowing schedule for a six-mile section of 390 between Rte. 408 (Mount Morris) and Rte. 258 (Sonyea). This 93-acre area offers refuge for migrating monarch butterflies and other pollinators. As a result, there are now more than 18 species of naturally-regenerating wildflowers and grasses providing food and habitat for pollinators. Bees and butterflies are now able to successfully complete their life-cycle without being disrupted or damaged by mowing.

DOT Region 4 is working in partnership with the Seneca Park Zoo Society and two interpretive gardens are now thriving at the Mount Morris and Geneseo Rest Areas. Nearly 13,300 vehicles travel this section of 390 each day. Educational signs at the gardens give rest area visitors information about the plight of pollinators and provide tips about what New Yorkers can do to protect these important species.

DEC established the Environmental Excellence Awards in 2004 to recognize those who are working to improve and protect New York’s environment and contribute to a healthier economy by advancing sustainable practices and forming creative partnerships. To date, DEC has recognized 80 winners. Awardees are considered an elite group of committed organizations leading by example and serving as models of excellence within their industry and community. Union College, host of this year’s award ceremony, was an award recipient in 2008 for its campus-wide commitment to sustainability.  A statewide review committee, made up of 20 representatives from the public and private sectors, shared advice in selecting the award winners from an array of competitive applications received in May.

(Photo/Holly Occhipinti via