ITD's Statewide Roadside Program

ITD implements a comprehensive and integrated vegetation management program that assures water quality, improves erosion and sediment control, reduces roadside maintenance, enhances natural beauty, manages noxious weeds, and protects natural habitats. This is achieved by promoting Best Management Practices (BMP) for construction and maintenance projects, introducing more native vegetation along roadsides and complying with applicable federal, state, and local laws.

Wildflowers and other native plants provide visual character that enhances the natural scenic beauty of our state's landscape, as well as enhance native habitats. The growing concern for our natural heritage has generated an increasing interest in their restoration, preservation, and appreciation. Our highways provide access to the splendors of nature, as well as offer opportunities for natural beauty within their rights-of-way.

Under the program "Operation Wildflower" and the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987 (STURAA), native wildflowers and other native vegetation are being planted in the rights-of-way to add natural character to the highway environment, as well as to stabilize slopes to reduce erosion. These programs are the framework of Idaho Transportation Department’s wildflower and native habitat restoration programs.

Transportation planning and project development must reflect the desires of communities, and take into account the impacts on both the natural and human environments. Transportation projects are closely looked at to see how they might impact the community, the natural environment, and our health and welfare.

Before any project can move forward to construction, ITD must address and comply with laws related to the environment. These laws cover social, economic, and environmental concerns ranging from economic development to sensitive habitat requirements.

Noxious weeds are spreading at an alarming rate across the Western United States. Each year approximately $23 billion is lost nationwide due to invasive plant impacts to agriculture, industry, recreation, and the environment.

In addition, invasive plants are invading about 4,600 acres of land daily with over 8 million acres of Idaho lands severely infested by one of the 35 state-designated noxious weeds. In response to these impacts, President Clinton signed the Executive Order 13112 (2/99), which directs Federal and State agencies to expand and coordinate their efforts to combat the introduction and spread of plants and animals not native to the United States.

ITD Integrated Vegetative Management (IVM) program applies specific guidelines and complies with federal, state and local noxious weed laws to effectively eliminate, control and manage the spread of noxious weeds.

ITD uses environmentally beneficial landscaping that includes utilizing techniques that complement and enhance the local environment and seek to minimize the adverse effects that landscaping has on it. It also provides a framework for preventing the introduction of and controlling the spread of invasive plant species on highway rights-of-way.

Some of the techniques and equipment include selective herbicide applications, brush control or removal, promoting native or adaptable vegetation, reseeding disturbed areas, bio-control agents and delivery systems, more efficient equipment cleaners, improved seeding equipment (for steep slopes), GPS for invasive population inventories, and methods to minimize soil disturbance during vegetation management activities.

Published 10-18-13