MnDOT Holds Public Comment for Mowing/Haying State Right of Way
MnDOT has formed a mowing and haying state right of way stakeholder group that will take all of the input gathered from the several public comment sessions held throughout the state.
“These changes are due to the Legislature at the beginning of the session and that’s what the working group is working on and this input helps to inform those decisions that we make for recommendation,” said Nancy Daubenberger the MnDOT Engineering Services Assistant Commissioner.
Depending on the region, many different uses for state right of ways were discussed including safety, preservation of habitat, quality food for livestock and vegetation management.
“Those different uses are quite valid so we need to figure out a way to do something that will give everybody at least some of what they want and the best way to figure out what they want is to ask them,” said Kevin Gutknecht the MnDot Communications Director.
But tonight in Baxter the hot topic was all about the permits and what to expect in the future.
“That’s a requirement that is in place by state statute and then we have a permitting process that we are trying to make more workable for folks so that they do indeed come in and get a permit that keeps that line of communication open so MnDOT knows who is in a right of way and what they are doing,” Daubenberger said.
For some, including farmers the idea of adding a permit and the additional cost of a performance bond is worrisome.
“Unfortunately it doesn’t work into farming or ranching schedules because permits are burdensome and cumbersome,” said Miles Kuschald Famer in Sebeka .
But MnDOT is hoping to find that balance that works for the state and those who own property along the right of way.
“We are a big land owner and it incumbent upon us to manage that well,” Daubenberger said.
MnDOT is in charge of about 175,000 acres of green space right of way.
“We have a lot of hay fields that are right alongside state highway so having those fields and being required to get permits in order hay them, we are actually doing the DOT a public service by saving them costs on mowing the ditches themselves,” Kuschald said.
For those that couldn’t attend the session but would like to give input can leave a public comment on MnDOT’s website http://www.dot.state.mn.us/mowing/comments.html