News Flash

Walworth County News

Posted on: January 25, 2023

Living Snow Fences Make Good Neighbors

A white truck drives past a row of corn stalks down an asphalt road half covered in snow. Image (above): A living snow fence of corn stalks, on the left, reduces drifting snow across County Highway F near Pearce Family Farm in Walworth.

Blowing and drifting snow jeopardizes public safety, slows down emergency services, interrupts businesses, and increases winter maintenance costs. One of the most effective solutions is snow fencing. Annually, Walworth County Public Works installs temporary snow fences along roughly two miles of state roadway and eleven miles of county roadway. While this temporary fencing is effective at capturing blowing snow, the installation and removal are expensive, and the fences are unsightly. 

A superior alternative is the living—or natural—snow fence. Rows of living plants, such as corn stalks, grasses, shrubs, or trees, act as structural barriers or windbreaks that cause blowing snow to settle behind the barrier before reaching and accumulating on the adjacent roadway. When the snow is at rest, the particles freeze together, making a snowdrift. This helps keep the traveling public on the road safer by improving visibility and reducing roadway accumulations during harsh weather. 

snow fence graphicImage (above): The science behind snow fences. 

Living snow fences are more cost-effective than temporary fencing and more efficient in capturing snow—capturing up to 12 times more snow. In addition, snow containment improves as the snow fence matures and living snow fences provide wildlife and pollinator habitat. Some living snow fences may take five to seven years to develop and require regular maintenance as the density of living snow fences will change over time. Others, such as rows of corn stalks, are easy to maintain and require nothing more than simply leaving them up at the end of the growing season. 

A good example of this type of living snow fence can be found at Pearce’s Farm Stand in Walworth. For the past few seasons, the Pearce family has left a few rows of corn up along a quarter-mile stretch of their property adjacent to the intersection of County Highway F and State Highway 67. The Pearce’s living snow fence has effectively reduced blowing snow from drifting across this busy intersection.  

Be Part of the Solution: Walworth County Public Works aims to raise awareness of the effectiveness of living snow fences in winter road maintenance and safety and continues to seek out additional locations for living snow fences. If you own property along County or State roadways and would like to be part of the County’s living snow fence program, please contact Walworth County Public Works at (262) 741-3114, Option 1.

Learn more about living snow fences at https://www.co.walworth.wi.us/331/Highway-Division.

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