Integrating Roadside Vegetation and Erosion Control
Better Roads Staff
The plan is applicable to the entire state and includes landscaping objectives for integration into transportation system planning, safety, design and operation. Ultimate goals include good stewardship of roadsides, and maintenance of a unique and sustainable “Nebraska-style” landscape.
“The Plan for the Roadside Environment is designed to create a roadside that can better overcome the disturbances of construction, withstand the rigors of the Nebraska climate and perform the landscaping objectives that contribute to safe and maintainable roadsides that complement the surrounding landscape,” the plan states.
The plan is founded on the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project, a conservation plan published by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and integrates environmental concerns, landscape objectives and mitigation and maintenance requirements.
Themes of Nebraska’s plan include:
• increased use of native plants appropriate to each landscape region of the state;
• seeding of native grasses, legumes and forbs in new ways as design elements to accomplish landscape objectives, as well as provide soil stabilization for the roadway corridor;
• use of required environmental mitigations in a manner that will accomplish landscape objectives within the highway corridor;
• use of permanent erosion control and stormwater control constructions as design features to accomplish landscape objectives within the highway corridor;
• development of additional ways to use plantings to reduce maintenance efforts and improve stewardship; and
• enhance existing partnerships and develop new partnerships with natural resource agencies and others to broaden benefits and to share knowledge and combine resources for mutual benefit.
If roadbuilding and maintenance changes the landscape, the roadside landscape must be maintained to recognize the movement of plants and animals, Nebraska DOT says. “These corridors provide a way for plants and animals to move between habitats that have been fragmented by agriculture, expanding communities and various other activities of man and nature,” Nebraska’s plan states. “Understanding this need and using thoughtful design and appropriate long-term management of these corridors will allow for safer movement of all species whether for seasonal migration or changes over longer periods of time.”
Iowa Funds County Roadsides
The state of Iowa is actively promoting integrated roadside vegetation management via a program that was established by the state in 1988.
Iowa’s tool chest includes judicious use of herbicides, spot mowing, prescribed burning, mechanical tree and brush removal and the prevention and treatment of disturbances to existing vegetation. Like Massachusetts, the plan’s long-term objective is to reduce roadside maintenance by creating stands of durable, long-lived, native plants.
Until the mid-1980s, Iowa’s roadside weed control relied exclusively on herbicides, with most counties using blanket spraying. It was expensive and potentially harmful, and it was an ineffective means of weed control, creating openings for weeds by stressing and weakening roadside grasses, and eliminating beneficial broadleaf species.
“Iowa counties were spending a lot of money putting large amounts of herbicide into the environment, and, at the same time, making little or no headway in the control of roadside weeds,” the plan says. “Clearly, this type of roadside management proved unsustainable.”
Simultaneously, the Iowa DOT began using native prairie grasses and wildflowers for erosion control. A few county conservation boards were also experimenting with this naturally adapted, alternative vegetation for roadsides. When the Iowa legislature officially adopted its integrated roadside vegetation management plan in 1988, the cornerstone of the program became the establishment and protection of native vegetation in Iowa roadsides.
MORE FROM Featured Articles
- Sydney uses water curtains to alert drivers to stop (VIDEO)806 Views
- Obama signs memorandum to expedite infrastructure projects581 Views
- Florida’s Red Light Camera Game: G R E E N orange R E D289 Views
- Big four cellphone companies jointly launch anti-texting campaign266 Views
- Acceptance of connected vehicles depends on cost, LaHood says264 Views