Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Brown is the New Green; At Least Along WA State Highways

If you've traveled around Washington at all this summer, you may have noticed that some of the vegetation surrounding state highways and freeways isn't looking so- um- fresh. In fact, some of it is mostly dead.

The Washington State Department of Transportation blog says that vegetation plays an important role in keeping the soil in place along sloped areas, filtering stormwater runoff, and absorbing pollution, among other things. Native plants that require little maintenance are generally used in transportation projects to reduce staff and equipment costs. Many of the plants naturally go dormant in the summer, although it's usually later in the season.

Despite being known as the Evergreen State, the hot weather this year and the drought have sped up this process, leaving behind swaths of brown near major roadways. Even so, crews still mow the areas that appear to be growing, to keep fuel for potential wildfires limited.

So while the brown vegetation throughout the state might not look the best, allowing them to ‘go brown’ follows the natural life cycle of native plants and conserves limited financial and water resources. 

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About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.