Issue Brief: Highways BEE (Bettering the Economy and Environment) Pollinator Protection Act

The Issue

ASLA supports legislation that fosters pollinators such as honeybees, birds, bats, butterflies, and other native species, and their essential role in healthy ecosystems and American agriculture.

Background & Analysis

Representatives Jeff Denham (CA) and Alcee Hastings (FL) have introduced H.R. 2738, the Highways BEE (Bettering the Economy and Environment) Pollinator Protection Act, legislation that supports pollinator habitats throughout the nation’s transportation enterprise. The bipartisan legislation also highlights the extreme population losses of pollinators, and provides for existing authorizations and funding sources to incorporate integrated vegetation management (IVM) practices along America’s highway rights-of-way. H.R. 2738 outlines achievable benefits through IVM practices that can significantly reduce mowing and maintenance cost for state DOTs and help create habitat, forage, and migratory corridors that will contribute to the health of honeybees, monarch butterflies, and other native pollinators, and other native pollinators.

ASLA has joined with the Pollinator Partnership (P2) and over 250 national, state, and local organizations, businesses, and 2,800 researchers to urge congressional support for legislation that would improve pollinator health and vitality, and their habitats.


Representatives Jeff Denham(CA) and Alcee Hastings(FL) and co-sponsors

Current Status

H.R. 2738 was reintroduced on Thursday, June 11, 2015 and referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. On July 30, 2015, the U.S. Senate passed, the Drive Act, a six-year surface transportation bill. Congressional champions, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Jeff Merkley (OR) worked with their Senate colleagues to incorporate the legislative principles of the Highways BEE Act into the transportation bill.

After vigorous advocacy efforts by ASLA, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act on December 4, 2015, that includes the language of the Highways BEE Act.  Specifically, section 1415 of the FAST Act amends 23 U.S.C. 319 and directs FHWA, when carrying out any program under title 23, United States Code, to encourage:

1. Integrated vegetation management practices on roadsides and other transportation rights-of-way, including reduced mowing; and

2. The development of habitat and forage for Monarch butterflies, other native pollinators, and honey bees through plantings of native forbs (e.g., flowering plants) and grasses, including noninvasive, native milkweed species that can serve as migratory way stations for butterflies and facilitate migrations of other pollinators.

On March 25, 2016, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a memorandum to provide guidance and resources to assist State Departments of Transportation in providing pollinator habitats on rights-of-way.


LAND FHWA Releases Memo on Pollinator Habitats in Transportation Projects, April 2016
Congressional Research Service Bee Health: Background and Issues for Congress
H.R. 2738, the Highways BEE Act text
The Drive Act, Highways BEE Act Amendment (Gillibrand/Merkley)
ASLA Statement: Congress Can Protect Pollinators through Highways BEE Act


ASLA Government Affairs