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Roadside Use of Native Plants

Environmentally and Economically
Beneficial Landscaping Guidance

The Office of the Federal Environmental Executive issued final guidance to implement the April 1994 Presidential Executive Memorandum (E.M.) on landscaping practices found on page 596. The guidance, as published in the Federal Register on August 10, 1995, pages 40837-41, applies to all Federal Agencies and all federally-funded or assisted projects. It provides information and direction regarding the implementation of environmentally and economically beneficial practices.

Definitions

Native Plant
A native plant species is one that occurs naturally in a particular region, ecosystem and/or habitat without direct or indirect human actions.
Pesticide
A pesticide is "any substance or mixture of substances: (a) for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest, or (b) for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant." [FIFRA Section 2 (u)].
Pest
A pest is "(1) any insect, rodent, nematode, fungus, weed, or (2) any other form of terrestrial or aquatic plant or animal life or virus, bacteria, or other micro-organism (except viruses, bacteria, or other micro-organisms on or in living man or other living animals) which the Administrator declares to be a pest." [FIFRA Section 2 (t)].

Compliance With The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
As published in the August 10, 1995 Federal Register (pages 40837-41)

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) provides a mandate and a framework for federal agencies to consider all reasonably foreseeable environmental effects of their actions. Where Federal projects or federally-funded activities or projects considered in the NEPA process include landscape considerations, draft and final NEPA documentation and Record of Decision for the proposed action and alternatives, as applicable, shall reflect the recommendations established in this Guidance.

  1. Use of Regionally Native Plants for Landscaping

    Federal agencies, Federal projects or federally-funded projects shall incorporate regionally native plants in site design and implementation where cost-effective and to the maximum extent practicable. Federal agencies shall strive to avoid or minimize adverse impacts of proposed actions or projects on existing communities of native plants.

    Federal agencies shall ensure that the appropriate site and soil analyses are performed during pre-design stages of the project. To aid in proper plant selection and to ensure success of the plantings, analyses should match plant characteristics with site and soil conditions. Site design and implementation as well as plant selection shall incorporate such considerations as their biological needs, minimal plant care, low water use, and minimal need for fertilizers and pesticides. Plants selected shall be in character with the project site plant communities. Those plants selected for Federal landscape projects or federally-funded landscape projects shall be nursery propagated from sources as close as practicable to the project area. Native plants collected from existing indigenous populations shall not be used unless they are salvaged from an area where they would otherwise be destroyed in the near-term. Where native plant seeds are to be used for federal projects, they should be unadulterated by other plant species. Federal agencies should ensure that appropriate actions are taken to support the success of native plant species used for Federal or federally-funded landscaping projects.

  2. Design, Use, or Promote Construction Practices That Minimize Adverse Impacts on the Natural Habitat

    Federal agencies, Federal projects or federally-funded projects shall avoid or minimize adverse impacts to natural habitat. During preliminary selection of sites for Federal or federally-funded projects, Federal agencies shall avoid sites which are relatively undisturbed. If such areas cannot be avoided, Federal agencies should employ construction practices and procedures which minimize adverse impacts to natural habitat and incorporate existing vegetation and associated natural habitat into the project. Where new projects require use of a relatively undisturbed site, site clearing and preparation should be limited in order to prevent unnecessary adverse impacts. Where adverse impacts to natural habitat occur as a result of Federal or federally-funded projects, Federal agencies shall mitigate impacts to natural habitat on-site where feasible. On-site and off-site compensatory mitigation shall fully reflect lost natural values. Federal site design and development should consider environmental elements, human factors, context, sustainability, and pertinent special issues. Development of the site should include assessments of the soil and subsurface material. Project decision-makers, including designers, contract supervisors, contractors, field inspectors, site or facility master planners, and maintenance personnel shall either be knowledgeable of or informed of likely project related impacts to natural habitat. Where existing plantings are incorporated into the site design, they shall be adequately protected from construction activities. Project plans and specifications shall include explicit direction regarding construction practices to meet the goals of this guidance. On-site project managers and contractors shall ensure that practices which minimize impacts to natural habitat are followed during project construction. Such practices may include site management to control soil erosion and non-point source run-off and proper disposal of construction material and debris. Where practicable, personnel responsible for on-site construction practices, including contractors and construction inspectors, shall be knowledgeable about natural habitat resources.

  3. Seek to Prevent Pollution

    Federal agencies, Federal projects or federally-funded projects shall use chemical management practices which reduce or eliminate pollution associated with the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Wherever practicable, Federal agencies shall employ practices which avoid or minimize the need for using fertilizers and pesticides. These practices include, but are not limited to selection of plant materials that limit growth of "weed" species; use of integrated pest management techniques and practices, use of chemical pesticides which biodegrade, and use of slow release fertilizers.

    Federal agencies shall recycle and/or compost leaves, grass clippings, and landscape trimmings for further use as both soil amendments and mulches. Woody debris such as tree trunks, stumps, limbs, etc., resulting from federally-funded activities shall also be recycled as appropriate.

    Federal agencies shall use landscape management practices, including plant selection and placement, which control and minimize soil erosion, runoff of chemicals, and pollution of groundwater. Federal agencies shall also consider energy and water conservation benefits in the siting and selection of plants.

    Federal agencies and facilities subject to the requirements of Executive Order 12856 shall identify those chemicals used at their facilities for landscape-management and develop alternative landscape management practices to reduce or eliminate the use of those chemicals.

  4. Implement Water and Energy Efficient Landscape Practices

    Federal agencies, Federal Projects or federally-funded projects shall use water-efficient landscape design and management practices. These practices (such as Xeriscape) shall include planning and designing landscaping projects with consideration to: watering requirements, existing vegetation, topography, climate, intended use of the property and water-use zones. In addition, facility managers shall conduct soil analyses and, as appropriate, amend the soil at the project site to improve its ability to support plants and retain water. Initial site design as well as the addition of plants in established areas shall seek to establish water-use zones and promote efficient irrigation practices.

    Where irrigation systems have been installed, irrigation scheduling should be adjusted seasonally to the evapotranspiration rate (ET) for the plants in that particular climate.

    Irrigation with recycled or reclaimed water, where practicable, shall serve as a preferred alternative to the use of potable water. Finally Federal agencies and facilities, Federal projects and federally-funded projects, are encouraged to use water audits to identify additional opportunities for water-efficient landscape practices.

  5. Create Outdoor Demonstration Projects

    Federal agencies, Federal projects or federally-funded projects shall create and maintain outdoor demonstration projects exhibiting and promoting the benefits of economically and environmentally sound landscaping practices. These exhibits may include the selection and use of native plant species and the use of water-efficient and energy conserving practices.

    Exhibits may include small scale projects, such as interpretive or wildlife gardens, that focus on environmentally sound landscape management practices, site design, and development appropriate for residential, commercial, and institutional application. Additionally, demonstration projects may highlight larger projects, such as wetland or grassland restoration or woodland rehabilitation, that are more likely implemented by groups or state and local governments. Federal agencies are encouraged to from public/private partnerships with groups such as educational institutions, arboreta, commercial nurseries, botanic gardens and garden clubs, to advance the goals of the Executive Memorandum. Federal agencies are encouraged to work with and share information with other interested nonfederal parties to promote the use of environmentally and economically sound landscaping practices.

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Questions and feedback should be directed to Deirdre Remley (deirdre.remley@dot.gov, 202-366-0524).

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