Ditch-mowing rule won’t be changed

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Farm Forum

PIERRE — The months when ditches can be mowed along state highways in South Dakota shouldn’t change, the state Transportation Commission decided on Jan. 29.

A pheasant habitat work group that was convened a year ago by Gov. Dennis Daugaard suggested that populations of the popular game birds might benefit from tighter restrictions on mowing.

The thought was that fewer nests would be destroyed during early summer when the hens are hatching their eggs and in the weeks afterward when broods of new chicks are sticking close.

Transportation Commission members held a special public hearing in December but didn’t find a groundswell for change.

The current rule states: “No mowing of the right-of-way may begin in the west river counties of Gregory, Lyman, or Tripp before June 15 and east of the Missouri River before July 10.”

“I think we’re in a pretty good spot right now,” commissioner Rod Fouberg of Aberdeen said.

Commissioner Don Roby of Watertown said several times that he could go another week or two later before the start of mowing.

But commissioners Tim Dougherty of Sioux Falls and Kathy Zander of Pierre made the motion to leave the rule unchanged. The decision was unanimous on a voice vote.