The Senate heard a bill this week that extends the moratorium on MnDOT issuing permits to mow ditches and bail hay in highway rights-of-way for one more year. This will allow current mowing and bailing practices to continue while a convened group of stakeholders representing county engineers, farmers, wildlife habitat advocates, and MnDOT officials continue to work on recommendations for ditch mowing. There was no strong opposition to the bill—the stakeholders involved believe their working group has made progress toward an agreeable solution that balances road safety, farming practices, and wildlife and pollinator habitat preservation. Some critics are concerned pollinator and wildlife management will continue to be at risk, and have advocated for a pilot project on ditch management in the MnDOT Metro District.
The bill passed 53-13 and now heads to the House for floor debate. (SF 3569)