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Why oh why do we mow grass growing in the medians of the nation’s interstates? But for a rare safety consideration this expenditure of time, money, and man-hours seems unnecessary, even extravagant, in these economically stressful times.

Think about this. This is not just a budgetary issue, though a big one. It’s a conservation issue. We’re burning hundreds of gallons of gasoline, sending comparable toxic emissions into the air, and cutting grasses and small bushes that might otherwise serve as shelter for small animals.

If safety, as in line of sight, is an issue, than brush hog away. But this can’t be the only reason because in some areas miles of interstate medians are allowed to grow into small woodlands. If we must always maintain full line of sight than why are these woods permitted to grow?

If aesthetics is the issue, than plant—as some areas do—the medians and sidebars with wildflowers, perennials, wheat, or small decorative native bushes. Turn the medians and sidebars into attractive self-maintaining natural spaces.

If jobs for mower men and women are the issue, than take the money not expended on gasoline and mowers and instead spend it on flora. Send these men and women out in their orange jackets to plant, plant, plant.

Why do we feel compelled to cut, cut, cut just so we can look at the “lawn” in the middle of the roadway? Is it a leftover trend from the suburbanization of America that began in the 1950s? Is it a habit carried forward from the 1960s when the interstate system was first built—a kind of borrowed sensibility from the German autobahns? Is it we think being able to see farther down the highway somehow makes us safer in our need for speed?

Whatever the motivation we continue to mow like there’s mow tomorrow.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

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