Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Roadside Vegetation Management

people planting a tree

Prescribed fire

Healthy roadside vegetation is necessary for preventing weed infestations, controlling erosion, protecting water quality and keeping roadways safe. Fire is an important aspect of vegetation management because many types of plants actually need fire for ideal growth. It's used in combination with mowing, herbicide application, biological control and planting in MnDOT’s Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management program.

How it works

Detailed planning ensures that a fire can accomplish its goal while still being kept under control. Prescribed fires are intended to accomplish specific vegetation management goals:

  • Weather conditions are chosen carefully
  • Necessary equipment and crews are coordinated
  • Fire breaks are mowed where needed to improve control
  • Authorities and nearby landowners are notified and DNR burn permits are obtained

MnDOT fire crew members have all been through a nationally recognized training for basic wildland firefighters. They are experienced in working with prescribed fires on roadsides and have all the necessary equipment to safely control the fire. View MnDOT's prescribed fire policy.


Prescribed burn along a highway
Worker taking noise measurements near farm
  • Better weed control: Simply spraying weeds does little to prevent repeat infestations. After weeds are controlled, there needs to be desirable vegetation that can fill in to prevent future weed problems. Fire promotes dense stands of native plants that can out-compete weeds and make it harder for them to get established.
  • Better water quality: Fire encourages dense native vegetation with deep root systems that prevent erosion and filter storm water runoff.
  • Better safety: 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.

Where we use fire

In the fall, MnDOT prescribed fire crews may be seen burning in the following areas.

Northwest Minnesota:

  • Hwy 59 SE Kittson County (from the Marshall County Line to Lake Bronson)
  • Hwy 75 Marshall County (from Warren to Stephen)

Central Minnesota:

  • Lake Wobegon Trail
  • Hwy 55 from Brooten to Belgrade
  • Hwy 65 in the Cambridge Area
  • St Cloud Travel Information Center on Hwy 10

Southeast Minnesota:

  • I-90 by Eyota
  • Hwy 218 between Austin and Owatonna
  • Hwy 56 from Rose Creek to Le Roy
  • Hwy 52 in the Harmony and Canton area
  • Hwy 14 west of Claremont
  • Wetland mitigation near Hokah
  • Wetland mitigation near Ellendale