Right-of-Way Mowing Restrictions
Iowa Code 314.17 prohibits the mowing of roadside vegetation on the rights-of-way or medians on any primary highway, interstate highway, or secondary road prior to July 15. Exceptions built into the law include areas near the corporate limits of a city, areas near inhabited dwellings, areas requiring mowing for visibility and safety, as well as areas requiring mowing for specific vegetation management purposes. See https://www.legis.iowa.gov/law for code specifics.
Linn County mows the shoulders along the county's secondary roads to help delineate the road surface. We also spot mow (or spot spray) selected plant species in accordance with our Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Plan. New plantings are mowed mid-summer to help establish our perennial permanent cover. Right-of-way vegetation on wider roadways left tall after mid-summer, provides surface roughness to assist in retaining rolling and skipping snow during winter months. Snow retention in the ditch can reduce road ice and sanding / salting surface treatment cycles throughout the entire winter. For more information about roadside vegetation management as well as our program here in Linn County, browse the resource documents available on this webpage below and visit www.iowalivingroadway.com .
Growing Crops in Road Right-of-Way Prohibited
Iowa Code 318.3 prohibits the cultivation or growing of crops within the highway right-of-way. All roadways are included. Right-of-Way is defined as the total area of land, whether reserved by public ownership or easement; that is reserved for the operation and maintenance of an established public roadway.
Crops within right-of-way hinder visibility, bare soil encourages erosion and may impact drainage. Crop encroachment disrupts right-of-way integrity and destroys public funded plantings placed in public road right-of-way. Destroying plants placed in public road right-of-way is also prohibited by Iowa Code 318.3. Linn County has invested considerable effort in the improvement of our roadways. This note serves as a reminder to be aware of boundaries, and as a reminder of Iowa law.
We will be billing crop removal costs and damages to the abutting property owner or the person responsible. Abatement costs, where applicable, will include restoring the right-of-way to the condition prior to planting and may exceed the value of the planted crop.
Work Within Right-of-Way Permit for Private Vegetation Control in Right-of-Way
The purpose of this permit is to allow the adjacent landowner or tenant to establish an area within county right-of-way in which they control trees, shrubs and noxious weeds. This permit sets terms of the designation of No Spray / No Mow areas, including the responsibilities of the permittee to control vegetation. Iowa Code 318.3 prohibits physical changes to right-of-way without a permit. Unauthorized spraying is an example of a physical change. For more information, contact our office at 319-892-6400.
Linn County has received native grass and flowering broadleaf species seed for roadway plantings that will help improve roadway safety and habitats. Read on...
- Enhancing Roadsides Using Native Plants (PDF)
- Hydroseeding Survey Final Report 2013 (PDF)
- Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) George Butler Associates Study Recommendation (PDF)
- ITC Iowa Environmental Overview: Rare Species and Habitats (PDF)
- Managing Roadsides for Bees and Butterflies (PDF)
- National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators May 2015 (PDF)
- Native Prairie Website and Book Resources (PDF)
- Roadside Habitat Nesting (PDF)