We had a great turnout for planting the Hill County Rest Areas on October 13 and 16, 2016, with about 30 people helping on the Welcome the Monarchs! Field Day and 12 on Sunday. Most of the volunteers were members of the Native Plant Society and I’m very appreciative of their help. We had five exhibits set up for visitors to enjoy at the Welcome the Monarchs! Field Day and I’m thankful to Cathy Downs, Carol Feldman, and Ron and Ruth Loper for staffing their booths. The work completed in October was Phase I of the Hill County project. We have received approval from TxDOT to implement Phase II, which involves transplanting seven crepe myrtles and about 40 muhly grasses to new locations at the rest areas before we plant waystation plants.
In Phase I we planted approximately 2,000 square feet and spent about $1.00 per square foot. This did not include any soil amendments, fertilizers, equipment rental, travel, contract labor, or irrigation work. Assuming costs will be similar, we will spend about the same amount to plant the remaining 2,000 square feet in the Hill County rest areas (total for both rest areas) and about $2,000 more to plant the 2,000 square feet we have proposed for the Bell County rest areas (total for both rest areas). We may need to add fertilizers and bark mulch to our budget for the remaining beds. Volunteers are appreciated, especially during the week of Spring Break.
Approximately $12,000 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant will remain for interpretive signage. The committee would like to install three signs per rest area for a total of 12, so we will need more funds. The signs will probably cost between $2,000 and $3,000 each. We have requested additional funds from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through an amendment to our existing grant. We are also asking for chapters and individuals to contribute to our funds.
For directions use Google maps and enter Hill County Safety Rest Area (northbound or southbound) or Bell County Safety Rest Area (northbound or southbound) and you’ll get there. You MUST be on the freeway to access the rest areas, you cannot access them from frontage roads. Please park in the truck parking area.