It's easy to take for granted; every summer - usually sometime by mid-July - right-of-ways along the highways in the state are mowed, cleared, and groomed.  The process isn't just for aesthetics.  The mowing process is a safety issue; cleared right-of-ways allow drivers greater visibility, increasing the chance that they'll see deer or other animals sooner and reducing the number of animal-to-vehicle crashes.

Mowing and clearing of these right-of-ways along the highway is open for bid to the general public.  Individuals apply for the right to cut the grass; most usually the applicants are farmers who use the resulting cut-grass as hay and mulch.

Recently, the Minnesota Department of Transportation conducted a survey of the whole process with an aim of making it more efficient.  The resulting stakeholder feedback will be forwarded to the Minnesota legislature, with the objective of introducing legislation to correct and revise the process.

Some of the general findings from the survey included:

  • Ease of permit application or notification
  • Frequency of permits or notifications
  • Priority given to the owner or occupant of private land adjacent to a state highway right of way
  • Determination of authority to mow or hay state highway right of way in which adjacent land belongs to state or local government
  • Recognition of differences in the amount of wildlife habitat based on geographic distribution across the state

The entire process still has a ways to go; additional information can be found by clicking here.