ODOT delays mowing along highways in effort to save butterfly population

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OKLAHOMA CITY – There has been a growing number of calls to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation from drivers about tall grass along our interstates.

Every year, workers mow 130,000 acres in Oklahoma.

“To break that down in Oklahoma County, that’s about 3,000 acres, 2,500 of which are on interstates,” said Terri Angier, ODOT Spokesperson.

Grass and weeds along I-35, Hefner Parkway and I-44 sit at about 3 feet tall along embankments and ramps.

However, this year, crews purposefully got off to a late start, and it’s all to save the monarch butterfly.

“Six states along the highway I-35, we’re allowing the monarch butterfly to pollinate,” Angier said.

It was last spring ODOT agreed crews would refrain from mowing the highways and right of ways until July except if necessary.

It’s not only saved the butterflies, but millions of dollars were saved as well.

“So, about $2 million we were able to use in other areas,” Angier said.

Now that July is in full swing, ODOT crews are back out mowing hoping to finish on time.

“And, plans are to finish all the mowing for the one mowing in July,” Angier said.

ODOT crews will mow two or three more times through October.

If there are any areas that need emergency mowing, crews will take care of it.

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