State officials burned a field in Middletown this week to create habitat for pollinators.
DelDOT performed the controlled burn Wednesday on 43 acres along U.S. Route 301.
The burn is meant to suppress the growth of trees and invasive plants — so a wildflower meadow can take hold. Officials hope the meadow will support pollinators, like birds and insects.
“There’s all sort of invasive species that can take over a site,” said John Petersen of the Delaware Forest Service, which helped DelDOT execute the burn. “And these wildflowers wouldn’t be able to compete with the invasive species. So they really identified burning to just kind of wipe all that stuff out. ”
Petersen says the additional pollinator habitat will help offset the loss of Middletown's agricultural land to development.
“Middletown has experienced residential development as well as other development,” said Petersen. “And they feel that by trying to restore pollinator habitat they could maybe create something that was being lost over time with the rapid development in the area.”
DelDOT wetland scientist Christie Bonniwell says the meadow will also help DelDOT offset negative impacts on wetlands and forests from the new Route 301, which opened in January.
DelDOT plans to seed the meadow with native plants including spring- and summer-blooming wildflowers.