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Section 3: Guidelines for Levels of Vegetation Management

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Overview

There are two levels of vegetation management along Texas highways:

  1. Developed Urban Highways
    • highly maintained areas which are predominantly residential, commercial, or services development within major metropolitan areas; includes rights of way within smaller cities, towns and villages
  2. Rural Highways
    • surrounding land use is rural only
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Developed Urban Highways

Conduct vegetation management on roadways designated as Developed Urban according to the following guidelines for each activity or situation.

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Mowing and Trimming

Follow these guidelines for mowing and trimming along Developed Urban highways.

Establish non-mow or natural areas at appropriate locations within the right of way, to provide for wildflower preservation, regeneration of native plant species and establishment of nesting habitat for wildlife. Clearly mark these areas to prevent accidental mowing during modified full-width mowing.

After maximizing the use of non-mow areas, use modified full-width mowing on the remaining right of way.

Set cutting height at five inches as determined for strong regeneration of grasses.

Limit the frequency of modified full-width mowing cycles in developed areas to the fewest number of cycles practical.

Mechanically trim.

In those areas where herbicides have been applied for the control of taller, weedy plant species, delay mowing for a minimum of 14 days after herbicide application for maximum control of unwanted plant species.

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Herbicide Application

Apply herbicide to isolated pockets of noxious weedy plant species, if present, in accordance with procedures contained in Herbicide Operations.

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Wildflowers

Large stands of wildflowers should be avoided when mowing unless safety concerns arise.

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Ornamental Plantings

Maintain ornamental landscape plantings and irrigation systems in an acceptable condition. (See Chapter 4, Landscape Inspection Guide.)

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Erosion Control

Implement erosion control measures as necessary (slope stabilization, seeding, mulching, soil retention blankets, etc.). Refer to 2004 Edition of A Guide to Roadside Vegetation Establishment, Chapter 5.

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Wildlife Habitat and Native Plant Conservation

Areas which receive frequent mowing seldom support the establishment of significant wildlife habitat or provide for the regeneration of native plants. This is common in urban areas.

In those areas which may be designated as non-mow or natural areas, significant nesting cover for wildlife and strong regeneration and preservation of native plant species can be achieved.

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Endangered and Threatened Plants and Animals

Contact the District Environmental Coordinator, the Vegetation Management staff of the Maintenance Division (MNT), or the Environmental Affairs Division (ENV) for information concerning the location of protected species of plants and animals in each county.

Protected species of plants and animals known to exist in or adjacent to TxDOT right of way may require special mowing and trimming procedures.

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Invasive Species

Follow the mowing guidelines as outlined in Special Provision 730-003 (Roadside Mowing) for areas containing invasive species, which calls for pressure washing of mowing equipment before the equipment enters or leaves designated areas.

Targeted plants may require treatment with selected herbicides. Contact the Vegetation Management staff, MNT, before treating these areas.

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Rural Highways

Conduct vegetation management on roadways designated as Rural according to the following guidelines for each activity or situation.

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Mowing and Trimming

Follow these guidelines for mowing and trimming along Rural highways.

Establish non-mow or natural areas at appropriate locations (see Chapter 2, Section 7, Non-Mow or Natural Areas and Acreage Evaluations) within the right of way. These areas offer the best opportunity for wildflower propagation, native grass regeneration, and establishment of nesting cover for wildlife. Clearly mark these areas to prevent accidental mowing during modified full-width mowing.

After maximizing the use of non-mow areas, use modified full-width mowing on the remaining right of way. Generally, non-mow areas would begin at the toe of the slope in fill areas of the back of the ditch for cut sections, as long as clear zone requirements are met.

Use two modified full-width cycles per year. The first modified full-width cycle should be scheduled to allow wildflower seeds to mature and reset in the late spring. The second modified full-width cycle should be scheduled for the late fall to provide maximum regeneration of native grasses, maintain nesting cover for wildlife and reduce vegetative competition with spring-blooming wildflowers. Strip mowing may be used in lieu of modified full-width mowing cycles.

Set cutting height no lower than seven inches to preserve wildflowers, create residual nesting cover, and to provide for strong regeneration of native grasses.

Mechanically trim if necessary.

In those areas where herbicides have been applied for the control of taller, weedy plant species, delay mowing for a minimum of 14 days after herbicide application for maximum control of unwanted plant species.

Perform strip or spot mowing during the year when necessary for safety or control when taller vegetation is present.

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Herbicide Application

Target isolated pockets of noxious weed species, if present, with appropriate types and rates of herbicides as stipulated in Herbicide Operations. Coordinate mowing and herbicide operations for maximum effect.

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Wildflowers

Delay mowing until mature seeds are set. Reseed all suitable areas with wildflowers as appropriate.

The establishment of non-mow or natural areas provide excellent opportunities for the establishment of significant fall or perennial wildflower displays.

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Ornamental Plantings

Maintain ornamental landscape plantings and irrigation systems in an acceptable condition. (See Chapter 4, Landscape Inspection Guide).

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Erosion Control

Implement erosion control measures as necessary (slope stabilization, seeding, mulching, soil retention blankets, etc.). Refer to 2004 Edition of A Guide to Roadside Vegetation Establishment, Chapter 5.

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Wildlife Habitat and Native Plant Conservation

Areas which receive frequent mowing seldom support the establishment of significant wildlife habitat or provide for the regeneration of native plants.

In those areas which may be designated as non-mow or natural areas, significant nesting cover for wildlife and strong regeneration and preservation of native plant species can be achieved.

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Endangered and Threatened Plants and Animals

Contact the District Environmental Coordinator, the Vegetation Management staff of MNT, or ENV for information concerning the location of protected species of plants and animals in each county.

Protected species of plants and animals known to exist in or adjacent to TxDOT right of way may require special mowing and trimming procedures.

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Invasive Species

For areas containing invasive species, follow the mowing guidelines outlined in Special Provision and Special Specification 7445-007 (Roadside Mowing).

Targeted plants may require treatment with selected herbicides. Contact the Vegetation Management staff of MNT before treating these areas.

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