of the Iowa River Corridor
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Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) integrates the use of native vegetation with appropriate management techniques to produce cost-effective, environmentally sound management for roadside weed and erosion control.

The concept of IRVM has a relatively long history in the state of Iowa; groundwork was underway as early as the mid-1970s to establish one of the nation’s first IRVM programs. The goal of the program was to provide an alternative to typical roadside management practices, including the extensive use of mowing and herbicides. In addition to being costly to implement on a regular basis, these practices were frequently ineffective, and increased the potential for groundwater contamination.

Iowa's Department of Transportation now implements IRVM practices on many of its rights-of-way. Most new construction on state roads is seeded to prairie, and many existing non-native roadsides are being converted to prairie. The state's county road system has a first-in-the-nation reputation for its use of IRVM. Many of the state's 99 counties employ full-time roadside managers to implement IRVM plans.

To date, more than 50,000 acres of state and county roadsides in Iowa have been planted to prairie grasses and wildflowers. Many of these plantings have been funded by the Living Roadway Trust Fund. Established by the state legislature in 1988, the LRTF is an annual, competitive grant program that provides funding for IRVM activities, including the preservation, establishment, and maintenance of native vegetation along roadways; IRVM research, education and training; and county roadside inventories.



Bunch Flower
photo by C. Taliga

Photo by Carl Kurtz

Praire Fire "Prairie Fire," an 1857 lithograph by Henry Lewis, Collection of the State Historical Society of Iowa.