Prescribed burns taking place on highways

Published 11:37 am Thursday, May 15, 2014

ROCHESTER — The Minnesota Department of Transportation is conducting a prescribed burn near Hokah in Houston County today.

Trained prescribed burn crews monitor these burns. They are done to promote native prairie vegetation growth and control weeds and brush.

The work is a wetlands mitigation effort north of Hokah. Traffic should not be affected, but residents in the area might notice smoke from the work today.

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Prescribed burns are scheduled during optimal weather conditions to ensure safety and effectiveness, according to a press release.

Native prairie vegetation is planted along highway right of way to reduce the amount of mowing needed, which is meant to save taxpayer money. Burning serves as a safety measure. Prescribed fire is used to control brush and small trees near the roadway, which would otherwise become safety hazards. Fire promotes tall native grasses and forbs that trap blowing snow and prevent it from drifting across the road.

Several prescribed burns are scheduled this spring in southeastern Minnesota as weather conditions allow. Others are U.S. Highway 218 between Austin and Owatonna, state Highway 56 from Rose Creek to Le Roy and state Highway 52 in the Harmony and Canton area.