The Linn County Secondary Road Department and the Linn County Conservation Department remind county residents that state law prohibits mowing roadside vegetation in the rights-of-way or medians on any primary highway, interstate highway, or secondary road prior to July 15.
This law is designed to protect roadside habitats for nesting game birds, song birds, and other ground-nesting birds in the spring and early summer until they are ready to fledge. The law also protects habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects, including crop-pest predators.
Exceptions for visibility and weed control are built into the law, but non-essential mowing—including cutting for hay—is prohibited.
Iowa Code 314.17 states:
Mowing roadside vegetation on the rights-of-way or medians on any primary highway, interstate highway, or secondary road prior to July 15 is prohibited, except as follows:
- Within 200 yards of an inhabited dwelling
- On right-of-way within one mile of the corporate limits of a city
- To promote native species of vegetation or other long-lived and adaptable vegetation
- To establish control of damaging insect populations, noxious weeds and invasive plant species
- For visibility and safety reasons
- Within rest areas, weigh stations and wayside parks
- Within 50 feet of a drainage tile or tile intake
- For access to mailbox or for other accessibility purposes
- On right-of-way adjacent agricultural demonstration or research plots
Iowa’s roadsides provide a valuable refuge for wildlife. The mowing law serves as a reminder to only mow shoulders during the critical nesting season and leave the rest of the roadside for the birds.
For more information, a brochure called Iowa’s Mowing Law for Roadsides, is available at: tallgrassprairiecenter.org/irvm-brochures.