The program adminstered through a cooperation of West Virginia Division of Highways and the Department of Environmental Protection, REAP Program.
Our highways are a visitor’s introduction to West Virginia, and first impressions can be lasting. Realizing the need for highway beautification, the West Virginia Garden Clubs, Inc. and the Divisions of Highways and Natural Resources joined forces in 1990 to bring beauty and diversity to roadside landscapes by planting native and naturalized wildflowers in areas which normally supported weeds and dense brush. Their objective was also to encourage the preservation of natural stands of native wildflowers that traditionally had been mowed down and the planting of wildflowers on private property. In the last few years highway landscapes have been greatly improved as a result of this cooperative effort which resulted in the creation of “West Virginia Operation Wildflowers.”
In 1992, after a two year experimental period, West Virginia Operation Wildflowers was opened to the public. Since then over 200 acres of roadside wildflowers have been planted throughout the state. The program has proven to be one of the most popular statewide efforts in many years. At least one cultivated wildflower site has been planted in each of the following counties: Barbour, Berkeley, Boone, Brooke, Cabell, Fayette, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Marion, Marshall, Mercer, Mineral, Monongalia, Nicholas, Ohio, Pocahontas, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Summers, Tucker, Upshur, Wayne, Wetzel, Wood and Wyoming. With continued public support it is possible that cultivated wildflower beds will be planted in all 55 counties within the near future.
Roadside beautification projects offer individuals, businesses, civic groups and communities an excellent opportunity to unite diverse groups of people and motivate then to work toward a common goal. We have come to realize that highway beautification extends beyond mowing, it is no longer a matter of removing unwanted plants, but one of encouraging species to diversify and beautify roadsides. In recent years wildflowers have become widely recognized and appreciated as an economical and environmentally friendly way to enhance our highways.