Iowa mowing laws designed to protect roadside habitats

The Story County Conservation Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Program reminds Iowans to protect roadside habitat for nesting game birds and song birds this spring and early summer.

According to Iowa Code 314.17, mowing roadside ditches is restricted until July 15 to protect young pheasants and other ground-nesting birds until they are ready to fledge. The law, which applies to county secondary roads as well as state primary and interstate highways, 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 to 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, in general, limit the amount of recreational mowing throughout the summer.

Give Back Iowa Challenge winners announced

Volunteer Iowa has announced the winners of the third-annual Give Back Iowa Challenge, a campaign in which businesses encourage their employees to volunteer and log their hours as part of an eight-week challenge, April 1-May 31, across the state of Iowa. The winners will receive a visit from the Governor or Lt. Governor in the coming months and a certificate of recognition.

From a business perspective, employer supported volunteering leads to improved employee engagement, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction and retention; all of which can impact the business’ bottom line. From an engagement perspective, places of employment are perfect environments to encourage and support volunteering efforts that contribute toward meeting significant community challenges.

The 2017 Give Back Iowa Challenge had 56 participating organizations — representing over 56,450 employees in Iowa — that logged over 57,000 volunteer hours. According to the current Iowa volunteer rate per hour from the Independent Sector, the value of these hours exceeds $1.3 million. Winners were selected in three categories based on employer size and the highest average number of volunteer hours per employee. The 2017 winners include:

• Small: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa, Waterloo ◦ Honorable Mention: Worldly Goods, Ames

• Medium: First Citizens Bank, Mason City ◦ Honorable Mention: West Music Company, Coralville

• Large: Bankers Trust, Des Moines ◦ Honorable Mention: Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, Riverside

Volunteer Iowa would also like to recognize the additional employers that rounded out the overall Top Ten in the Challenge with the highest average number of volunteer hours per employee:

• Iowa Healthcare Collaborative

• Lessing-Flynn Advertising

• Volunteer Center of Story County

• Make-A-Wish Iowa

• Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa

• Green Valley Pest Control & Lawn Care

• Story County Conservation

“The winners of the Give Back Iowa Challenge demonstrate the impact employers have on improving our communities through service,” said Adam Lounsbury, Volunteer Iowa Executive Director. “Employee volunteering is win-win for both business and the community, and with the support of employers, we can increase volunteerism across Iowa.”

Naturalist Lunch Box program at McFarland Park

Spread your blanket, unpack your lunch and join a naturalist for a Friday picnic in the park. A Naturalist Lunch Box program will be held from noon to 1 p.m. at McFarland Park (56461 180th St.) northeast of Ames on Friday, July 7.

The one-hour program will feature animal stories and songs. The program is free and appropriate for all ages; bringing a picnic lunch is optional. Adults are expected to remain with their children. In the event of inclement weather, the program will be held inside the conservation center. The program is free, and registration is not required.