Tricounty News

Mn/DOT cautions farmers

The Minnesota Department of Transportation urges farmers to use caution when planting crops near highway rights-of-way and to get needed permits to mow hay and other crops in highway medians or on roadsides. Mn/DOT officials advise that planting crops within rights of way is illegal because as crops grow higher and fuller, they can block motorists' vision and create other safety problems. State laws prohibit plowing, tilling and planting in rights of way including driving lanes, shoulders, ditches and sight corners at intersections. The department also advises that mowing and haying on rights of way are allowed only after obtaining a permit. Officials said requests for permits are coming sooner and in higher numbers during previous years. A $100 deposit is required when applying for a permit. The deposit will be returned if the work completed meets permit requirements. Permits for locations where mowing is allowed are distributed on a first-come, first served basis. Mn/DOT prohibits mowing in wildflower areas as well as those harboring noxious weeds such as leafy spurge which spread rapidly when cut. "The goal of these restrictions is to ensure safety and to protect roadside environments," said Steve Lund, Mn/DOT's state maintenance engineer. "Inspectors can, for example, require that landowners replace crops on state rights of way with permanent, non-crop vegetation that won't restrict motorists' vision, cause erosion or affect proper drainage at their own expense," Lund said. Lund said inspectors can help farmers select suitable vegetation, locate right of way markers and provide more information about allowable practices. "Our roadway regulation inspectors are knowledgeable and willing to help landowners adopt practices that enhance safety and the environment," Lund said. For more information on mowing permits in central Minnesota contact Mark Renn, road regulations, St. Cloud, at (320) 223-6522; or Ken Larson, road regulations, Baxter, at (218) 828-5777.