June 14, 2017
Integrated roadside vegetation management – it’s just a fancy term for putting things back the way they were when buffalos roamed Iowa prairies. In the 1940s, 50s, and 60s when most Iowa roadways were originally built, roadside plantings were not a main focus before, during, or after highway construction. Planting non-native species along the road was inexpensive and seemed to work just fine to cover the area.
By the 1980s, roadside erosion and water quality started becoming a problem. The Iowa Department of Transportation’s roadside development group began researching the underlying issues causing these problems. This lead them to advocate for a transformation of roadsides back to deep-rooted native prairie plantings to stabilize the soil and provide filtration for water runoff.