Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Roadside Vegetation Management

Prescribed fire

Worker taking noise measurements near farm
Prescribed burn along a highway

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. See MnDOT's prescribed fire policy.


  • 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 spring and fall, MnDOT prescribed fire crews may be seen burning in the following areas:

Northwest Minnesota

  • Hwy 59 SE Kittson and Marshall County (from Lake Bronson to Theif River Falls)
  • Hwy 75 Polk, Marshall, and Kittson County (from Crookston to Pembina)
  • Hwy 102 (from Crookston to Fertile)
  • Fischer's Landing Rest Area (On US hwy 2)

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
  • MnROAD Research Center (I-94 Albertville)
  • Spunk Lake Rest Area (I-94 Avon)
  • Hwy 23 (from Paynesville to Rockville)
  • Hwy 371 (from Little Falls to Brainerd)

Southeast Minnesota

  • I-90 by Eyota
  • Hwy 218 9 (from Owatonna to Lyle)
  • 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
  • Dresbach Rest Area (I-90 Dresbach)
  • Hwy 61 (Dakota)

Twin Cities Metro Area

  • Wetland mitigation near Jordan
  • Wetland mitigation near Rockford
  • Wetland mitigation near Minnetrista
  • Wetland mitigation near Waconia