Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Roadside Vegetation Management

Trees on MnDOT rights of way and managed lands

Trees serve an important function on MnDOT roadsides and other MnDOT managed lands. Trees can provide countless environmental benefits including, but not limited to:

  • Improved air and water quality
  • Removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • Increased pollinator habitat
  • Increased wildlife habitat

Trees also provide cooling shade for travelers stopping by a MnDOT rest area to enjoy a picnic.

Other tree benefits

Trees can also:

  • Make winter travel on MnDOT roads safer while reducing maintenance costs when used alone, or in combination with, shrubs and grasses as a living snow fence
  • Aid in traveler safety when used alone, or in combination with other plantings, by providing screening from oncoming headlights
  • Provide visual screening of the roadway for adjacent properties
  • Screen unsightly areas from the highway
  • Create traffic calming in urban areas

Besides providing environmental, safety and other functional benefits, trees also provide aesthetic value for those traveling on our roads or visiting our rest areas and building sites. While many trees on MnDOT roadsides occur naturally, in other instances through formal contract processes, trees are incorporated into the roadside landscape, using context sensitive solutions as part of the overall corridor planning and design with specific regard to architectural and aesthetic elements.

Trees provide many benefits on both MnDOT roadsides, as well as other MnDOT managed lands. If not properly managed and cared for, trees can also cause problems for the traveling public. Trees and other woody vegetation must be properly managed at all times, including removal, to avoid becoming hazardous to motorists and pedestrians or interfere with MnDOT maintenance operations. Trees are also removed from MnDOT rights of way and managed lands due to insect and disease issues.

Additional reasons for tree and other woody vegetation removal include traffic clearance, interference with vertical or horizontal sight distances, encroachment of the safety clear zone and interference with more desirable trees.

Sometimes there are requests to remove woody vegetation from MnDOT rights of way by others. Those requests are handled on a case-by-case basis. Dependent on the situation, permission may, or may not, be granted. Go to our Vegetation Removal Requests web page for more information.