Spring arrives Wednesday and one rite of the season is mowing down all theweeds that’ve sprung up in ditches along rural roads. A wildlife researchbiologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources urges people -not-to mow or burn all of that groundcover, as it’s home to many creatures.Todd Bogenschutz says Iowa’s roadside ditches are populated by pheasants,quail, partridge, ducks, rabbits and hundreds of different types ofsongbirds. He says burning can destroy the nests and the animals themselves.Bogenschutz understands the edges of roads need to be kept neat so motoristscan see. For those who want to clear ditches with fire, he says burningbetween April 1 and 20 encourages native grasses and discourages exoticcool-season species and weeds. Native grasses provide better habitats.Bogenschutz suggests rural Iowa landowners do “rotational” burns in theditches. If you have two miles of road ditch, do one side one year and theother side the next year. That way, if there is any wildlife in there, theystill have someplace to go. One other note: before burning, take carefulnote of the wind direction and notify your fire department.
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