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Roadside Vegetation Management

Big Lakes County Roadside Vegetation Management programs enact a proactive approach to weed and vegetation growth management within the boundaries of the municipality.  By using multiple control methods (Integrated Vegetation Management or IVM)  such as mechanical mowing, herbicide spraying, roadside seeding with certified seed, and conducting weed inspections, the municipality is attempting to limit the spread of Noxious and Prohibited Noxious weeds in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Trained staff members administer the IVM program, to ensure healthy and competitive grass growth in roadside ditches, while minimizing weed growth and other problem vegetation.

Roadside Mowing

Big Lakes County mows approximately 1,100 kilometers of roadsides (x 2 ditches = 2200 kilometers) annually as part of the Roadside Vegetation Management program. Ditch mowing is done to keep sightlines clear and reduce the encroachment of brush. Mowing may also help to control certain weeds.  While aesthetically pleasing, mowing is also done to reduce the potential for winter snow trap and drifting. In addition to our roadsides, various locations around the County are mowed for safety, accessibility and facilitation of water drainage. 

Big Lakes County currently operates four tractors and mowers for general roadside mowing. This is a formidable undertaking and staff work long hours to ensure all roadways are mowed a minimum of once annually.  During the fall, or when ditches are dry, the mowers complete as much small brush removal as time and equipment permit. Landowners can assist in this process by ensuring that wire and other debris is not left in the ditches.


Roadside Spraying

To protect adjacent property from Noxious weeds which may be present in our roadside ditches, the Agricultural Services department conducts a seasonal roadside herbicide application program. The program includes a three (3) year rotation of treatment, with patch spraying and brush spraying of select locations. In addition to controlling weeds, the application of herbicide is intended to prevent brush from encroaching on roadways and to remove tall, undesirable broadleaf plants which impair sightlines and present a safety hazard to motorists. 

For the protection of our workers, the environment and our residents (including livestock and pets), only the safest herbicides available are used to achieve our objective. Big Lakes County Agricultural Services roadside spray program follows all directives of the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the guidelines established by the Industrial Vegetation Management Association of Alberta.

The herbicides used in the County roadside spray program have undergone extensive laboratory testing by the manufacturer, and results of clinical and laboratory trials have been accepted (and registration approved) by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, which is a division of Health Canada.  Under the Pest Control Products Act, every registered herbicide for sale in Canada has a registration number to identify the product.  In addition, user label information and material safety data sheets are available to the users and the public.


Spray Exemption Program

Property owners who do not wish to have herbicide applications in the roadsides adjacent to their property may apply for an exemption. The Spray Exemption is an agreement between the landowner and the County; the landowner agrees to undertake the duty to maintain the roadside ditch area to ensure it remains free of all Noxious or Prohibited Noxious weeds, brush and/or tall vegetation, in exchange for no seasonal herbicide application.

Applications for a Spray Exemption Agreement may be obtained by contacting the Agricultural Fieldman at the County administration office. Signs are provided to the landowner to alert spray operators of all “No Spray” areas. Please post signs on the signposts provided, in a visible location, on the property line, where the area begins and ends.

Please renew agreements on an annual basis (prior to May 1st) by phone or in person, for the agreement to remain valid.