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Mr. Smarty Plants - Do any laws prohibit killing roadside wildflowers?

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Tuesday - April 09, 2013

From: Caldwell, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Managing Roadsides
Title: Do any laws prohibit killing roadside wildflowers?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Is there any law or regulation at the state level that prohibits, or at least discourages, mowing or spraying herbicide on the highway roadsides before the wildflowers have set seeds or did we lose that, too? I saw a tanker truck spraying herbicide on the ROW of SH 36 in Burleson County this morning. Many of the wildflowers have not even bloomed yet much less set seed. On my road which is a CR, we used to have red gaillardia, larkspur, blue curls, mist flowers, ground pea - oh how I loved that flower - and standing cypress - the whole ROW was full of them , now we have a few early, hardy spiderwort and some phlox that don't know any better and gum head and old man of the plains, and not much else. They have mown it before it can set seed for three years and then last year in the midst of the drought, they sprayed herbicide on it, killed everything including a raccoon who came to the last trickle of our stream, and left all of the brush standing there! The wildflowers here in the spring were a phenomenon, and they are almost gone.

ANSWER:

Your question is really a legal one and probably best answered by the authorities responsible for the maintenance of the roadsides in question.  For SH 36 (State Highway 36), the maintaining authority is TXDOT (Texas Department of Transportation).  For your county roads, the maintaining authority is the Burleson County Commissioners Court.

In general, most roadside maintaining authorities in Texas are interested in encouraging good wildflower displays since those displays are an important part of Texas' history and it's tourism appeal.  However, public safety concerns and other priorities sometime trump wildflower displays much to the dismay of the general public.  Occasionally, Texas roadside maintenance authorities seem to forget about - or fail to understand - the importance of roadside wildflowers and their life cycles and schedule mowing and herbicide applications at the worst possible times.

Simply calling your County Commissioner to express your concern about the roadside wildflowers in your county might be all that is necessary to initiate a change of schedule for roadside maintenance on your nearby county roads.  Likewise, contacting TXDOT about state highways and farm to market roads might yield similar results.  If there are compelling reasons for applying herbicides or mowing during the spring wildflower season, they should be able to explain those reasons to you.

 

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