Tree and Brush Control For County Road Right-of-Way, Ocotober 2002

(2002) Tree and Brush Control For County Road Right-of-Way, Ocotober 2002. Transportation, Department of

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Abstract

This manual summarizes the roadside tree and brush control methods used by all of Iowa's 99 counties. It is based on interviews conducted in Spring 2002 with county engineers, roadside managers and others. The target audience of this manual is the novice county engineer or roadside manager. Iowa law is nearly silent on roadside tree and brush control, so individual counties have been left to decide on the level of control they want to achieve and maintain. Different solutions have been developed but the goal of every county remains the same: to provide safe roads for the traveling public. Counties in eastern and southern Iowa appear to face the greatest brush control challenge. Most control efforts can be divided into two categories: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical control includes cutting tools and supporting equipment. A chain saw is the most widely used cutting tool. Tractor mounted boom mowers and brush cutters are used to prune miles of brush but have significant safety and aesthetic limitations and boom mowers are easily broken by inexperienced operators. The advent of tree shears and hydraulic thumbs offer unprecedented versatility. Bulldozers are often considered a method of last resort since they reduce large areas to bare ground. Any chipper that violently grabs brush should not be used. Chemical control is the application of herbicide to different parts of a plant: foliar spray is applied to leaves; basal bark spray is applied to the tree trunk; a cut stump treatment is applied to the cambium ring of a cut surface. There is reluctance by many to apply herbicide into the air due to drift concerns. One-third of Iowa counties do not use foliar spray. By contrast, several accepted control methods are directed toward the ground. Freshly cut stumps should be treated to prevent resprouting. Basal bark spray is highly effective in sensitive areas such as near houses. Interest in chemical control is slowly increasing as herbicides and application methods are refined. Fall burning, a third, distinctly separate technique is underused as a brush control method and can be effective if timed correctly. In all, control methods tend to reflect agricultural patterns in a county. The use of chain saws and foliar sprays tends to increase in counties where row crops predominate, and boom mowing tends to increase in counties where grassland predominates. For counties with light to moderate roadside brush, rotational maintenance is the key to effective control. The most comprehensive approach to control is to implement an integrated roadside vegetation management (IRVM) program. An IRVM program is usually directed by a Roadside Manager whose duties may be shared with another position. Funding for control programs comes from the Rural Services Basic portion of a county's budget. The average annual county brush control budget is about $76,000. That figure is thought not to include shared expenses such as fuel and buildings. Start up costs for an IRVM program are less if an existing control program is converted. In addition, IRVM budgets from three different northeastern Iowa counties are offered for comparison in this manual. The manual also includes a chapter on temporary traffic control in rural work zones, a summary of the Iowa Code as it relates to brush control, and rules on avoiding seasonal disturbance of the endangered Indiana bat. Appendices summarize survey and forest cover data, an equipment inventory, sample forms for record keeping, a sample brush control policy, a few legal opinions, a literature search, and a glossary.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: Tree and Brush Control, County Road Right-of-Way, Transportation
Subjects: Transportation > Roads and highways
Transportation
ID Code: 11605
Deposited By: Margaret Barr
Deposited On: 01 Nov 2011 12:47
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2011 12:48
URI: http://publications.iowa.gov/id/eprint/11605

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