The South Jersey Transportation Authority is planting 35 acres of native wildflowers at more than 50 locations along the Atlantic City Expressway this year, an increase of about five acres over last year.

More than 20 indigenous species are in the seed mix, said Mark Amorosi, SJTA communications manager, including milkweed, goldenrod and several varieties of aster.

There are also plans to plant an additional five to 10 acres in flowers in the fall, Amorosi said.

The flowers provide nectar for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which are suffering from habitat loss and pesticide use, said Nick Marchese, SJTA operations project manager. Their root systems also reduce stormwater runoff, remove pollutants and prevent topsoil from eroding into streams and other waterways, he said.

The flower planting is part of the SJTA’s Roadway Environmental Advancement Initiative, which also includes installing birdhouses, bat boxes and osprey platforms within the 1,200 acres of the expressway’s right of way. Birds and bats naturally control insect populations.

“The authority has reduced its dependence on petroleum-based, fossil fuels ... and the wildflowers help ... by removing 35 acres that need to be mowed regularly during the summer — saving time, money and carbon emissions released into the air,” SJTA Executive Director Stephen F. Dougherty said.

The authority got advice from federal and state agencies about which wildflowers to plant, officials said.

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Contact: 609-272-7219 MPost@pressofac.com Twitter @MichelleBPost Facebook.com/EnvironmentSouthJersey

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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