CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Thanks to partnerships with the Federal Highway Administration Transportation Alternatives program and the Iowa Department of Transportation Living Roadway Trust Fund, the University of Northern Iowa Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Program (IRVM) distributed native grass and native forb seed for roadway plantings that will improve roadway safety and habitats in 34 counties.
The program was awarded $255,000 from the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) within the Federal Highway Administration to purchase approximately 12,460 pounds of native grass and wildflower seed in 2013, enough to plant 1,140 acres of Iowa roadsides to native prairie. Eligible county roadside management programs apply for seed based on either a "ditch cleanout mix" of mostly grasses or a "diversity mix" of more than 35 native grass and wildflower species.
Native right-of-way plantings filter water that runs off road surfaces, provide habitat for pollinators and songbirds, improve erosion control and weed control, and provide surface roughness to retain rolling and skipping snow during winter months, thereby reducing the possibilities of roadway icing along wider, hard-surfaced roadways.
The IRVM program at UNI has helped facilitate this seed purchase since 1998.
2013 counties receiving TAP seed: Adair, Allamakee, Benton, Buchanan, Butler, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Dallas, Des Moines, Fayette, Franklin, Guthrie, Hardin, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Mahaska, Marion, Mitchell, Montgomery, Muscatine, O'Brien, Pocahontas, Palo Alto, Polk, Pottawattamie, Sac, Scott, Shelby, Story, Van Buren and Washington.