Not all the work done to fight snow involves big orange trucks with blades on them. Some Iowa landowners can now take part in a joint state-federal program to grow natural snowfences on their property. Marcia Roll, a natural resources specialist at the U-S-D-A’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, says the “living snowfences” provide a host of benefits to farmers, motorists and wildlife. Strategically-placed trees and shrubs control snow on the roadways while creating habitat for wildlife in addition to reducing wind and water erosion. Roll says the updated living snow fence program includes a combination of trees and shrubs that form a windbreak and a snow catch area made up of native grasses and wildflowers. And the land used for the living fence now has an added benefit for the owner. She says the area that was seeded with the plants wasn’t eligible for enrollment in the conservation reserve program, but that has changed. To be considered for the program, the property needs to be on the north or west side of roads, railroads and other public facilities or that had land cropped or considered cropped four of the six years from 1996 to 2001. An Iowa D-O-T official says the living snowfences significantly reduce blowing snow and increase visibility for travelers. Roll says Iowa landowners should find out more if they might be interested in the program. Start with contacting the nearest office of the U-S-D-A’s Farm Service Agency. The program provides annual payments to landowners who qualify for both the native grass-planted sections and windbreak area. Minimum living snowfence requirements include a catch area of approximately 100 feet planted to native grasses downwind of a windbreak. For more information, surf to the F-S-A website at “www.fsa.usda.gov/ia/”.
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