Roadside Mowing

In order to protect ground nesting birds and prevent nest destruction, cutting or mowing of Iowa's roadside ditches is prohibited by law, Iowa Code 314.17, between March 15 and July 15 of each year.

Our roadsides, or right-of-way areas, may not seem like the most spectacular bird habitat. However, areas like these are often times a last resort for many of our sensitive nesting bird species. These areas, as stated above, are protected by state law to ensure that our grassland nesting species such as partridge, pheasants, meadowlarks and other upland songbird species have a successful spring nesting season. 

Exceptions to the law:

  • 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 a mailbox or for other accessibility purposes.
  • On right of way adjacent to agricultural demonstration or research plots.

Reporting Violations:

  • Violations on county or secondary roads should be reported to the county engineer or roadside manager. 
  • Violations on state highways or interstate highways should be directed to the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Mowing is allowed to resume after July 15th.