County uses cornstalks to prevent snow drifting

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The cornstalks prevent snow from drifting on to rural roads. They basically act as snow fences. Franklin County Engineer Dean Ringle says he got the idea from a similar program in Iowa.

“Wow, why wouldn’t it work here? Even though we’re an urban county there’s still farmers that grown corn in the rural parts of Franklin County,” he said.

The program started in 2001 covering about 4 miles of county roads but has since gradually expanded to about 27 miles. Ringle says the county saved $380,000 in snow fence installation costs. Ringle says more than 70 farmers are participating in the program this year, nearly double what it has been in past years.

“The farmers have been very open to it,” he said. “They realize they’re getting paid for the time that it takes them to go back in the spring and knock the stalks down before they plow for their next crop. So they’re happy with that. And they’re happy that we don’t have to get out in their fields and place snow fence when they can just leave their cornstalks up.”

Farmers are paid $50 per acre to leave a 200-foot wide strip of cornstalks up along the road. The program is expected to cost the county about $33,000.