By Steve Peterson
At their July 23 meeting, Plymouth County Supervisors reviewed and approved the grass harvesting agreement as presented by County Engineer Tom Rohe.
Supervisors approved the new list of 16 rules by a 4-0 vote. Supervisor Jack Guenthner was absent.
The permit will be good for July 15 through Oct. 1. Supervisors’ approval of the new regulations is pending review of County Attorney Darin Raymond.
Residents Nick Van Dam of rural Remsen and Stephanie Jurgens of Le Mars were in attendance.
“What is the deal with July 15 (the start day of grass harvesting)? The nutrition from the grass is gone by July 15,” said Van Dam.
“We can’t change the Iowa Code but I would agree with you,” said Supervisor Craig Anderson.
“Are we allowed to knock down the shoulder?” questioned Van Dam.
“Yes, if it is for a site distance concern; that is an exception,” said Rohe.
“The State opened up a can of worms,” said Van Dam, adding he has been harvesting along his property for 1.5 miles for many years.
“We should stop and talk to the farmers,” said Supervisor Mark Loutsch.
Jurgens was thanked for her contributions to the new rules.
“Ninety-nine percent of the farmers are nice and obey the rules,” said Jurgens.
“If we don’t have these rules, someone else could come and bail your hay. It’s a few bad apples that spoil it,” said Supervisor Craig Anderson.
Agreements for baling hay can be obtained at Plymouth County Engineer’s Office, 32802 170th Street, Le Mars.
Some of the grass harvesting agreement rules are:
• The permit shall be approved prior to applicant beginning operations. This permit is valid for one year and a new permit will be submitted for any subsequent years.
• Harvesting shall not be allowed prior to July 15, unless listed as an exception to mowing restrictions in the Code of Iowa Section 314.18 nor after Oct. 1.
• All work within the right-of-way shall be performed between the hours of 30 minutes after sunrise and 30 minutes before sunset.
• All personnel on foot within the right-of-way shall wear safety apparel at all times.
• All harvested grass shall be removed from the road right-of-way within 48 hours of being harvested. Harvested grass remaining after 48 hours may be removed and disposed of by road maintenance crews at a cost chargeable to the permit holder. If an extension of time is needed, approval may be given by the county engineer.
• Bales or stacks of harvested grass shall not be stored closer than 30 feet from the near edge of pavement.
• Applicant shall not engage in harvesting operations when conditions will result in wheel ruts or cause probable drainage or erosion problems. Costs to repair by Plymouth County for such applications shall be assessed to the applicant.
• The operation shall be completed in a workmanlike manner and the area shall be left in a neat condition upon completion.
• If a person cuts or bales any grass or hay that someone else has a permit or ownership, to the hay and bales remain the property of the party with the permit. The person that cuts the grass or hay will receive no compensation for time, fuel or baling expense but will forfeit all rights to any of the grass and hay.
• The applicant shall be held responsible for any damage to fences, signs or other highway features resulting from harvesting grass. Right-of-way markers and land monuments shall not be removed, altered or damaged.
• This permit shall be subject to any laws now in effect or any laws which may be hereafter enacted and all applicable rules and regulations of local, state and federal agencies.
• Plymouth County makes no guarantee as to the quality of or to the contaminants which may be contained in the harvested grass and herein assumes no responsibilities to the applicant or users of harvested grass.
• The applicant agrees to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Plymouth County from any and all liability, loss, or damage that Plymouth County may suffer as a result of claims, demands, costs or judgments made against it arising out of the issuance of the permit or applicant’s operations. The applicant acknowledges that all operations are at the applicant’s risk.
• The applicant understands that in areas where herbicide has been sprayed in the past year that hay may not be suitable for harvest because of legal restrictions on the herbicide level.
• Applicant shall obtain the signature of adjoining landowners if grass or hay is harvested from their adjoining property, the permit concludes.
On another issue, Nick Van Dam asked if the property owners are taxed to the middle of the road. He was told no by Auditor Stacey Feldman.
“What will you do about these guys who farm past the right-of-way,” said Van Dam.
“We don’t want to see people planting corn in a ditch,” said Supervisor Don Kass.
“We should designate the right-of-way because some fences have come down. But that’s another issue,” said Rohe. “We try to keep people back.”