Collecting plant material from highway right-of-way

GAV65July 24, 2013

Hello, I have a question and I appreciate any helpful feedback. I am located in Houston, TX. Does anyone know if it is legal to collect plant material from a highway or road right-of-way? I think that the land is owned by a public entity. I couldn't find any rules or regulations through any government entity prohibiting this. Obviously I would not be obstructing traffic or creating any kind of disturbance.

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My gut feeling is that it would be frowned on by the Powers That Be, even without messing up the traffic. A couple of seed pods? Probably ok. Digging something up? Probably not ok.

You can find your local native plant society, which has almost certainly wrestled with the same question, and see what they think.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 10:36PM
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It is my understanding that the land is still owned by the persons or company that owns the adjacent property. They have given a right of way, but the land is not "owned" by the local highway department. Therefore, it is better to ask permission if you can find someone to ask.

I hate to see the roadsides cut so that nothing reseeds, and I have seen many valuable plants destroyed by chemicals as well.

You will have to look into your own conscience about this as legally I think you cannot do it. However, in the last year, I have become a "criminal" and saved a couple of plants from destruction. I always criticized those who dug from the side of the road, but now I have seen too much damage to ignore rescue possibilities. Still, get permission if you can!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 8:28AM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

It's a common urban legend that you can be fined or arrested for picking wildflowers along Texas highways. I think it must be something several generations of Lone Star parents have told their kids to keep them from plucking flowers when they stop to take the requisite family photos among the bluebonnets. Trespassing, violations for causing traffic hazards, and damage to public property from digging could still be problems. The DPS publishes an info sheet on how to stay safe and legal. Some endangered plants are also protected by the ESA.

While technically legal to collect non-ESA plant material from Texas highways, "should you?" is still a question. The answer is clearly "no" for those who lack any consideration or common sense.... these are the sort of folks who thought little of pulling or trampling a north Texas farmer's sunflower crop when the location of the great photo op was spread via social media. Otherwise, let courtesy and common sense about preserving the native roadside rule.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mr. Smarty Plants on picking wildflowers

This post was edited by bostedo on Thu, Jul 25, 13 at 13:16

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 1:08PM
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I agree that collecting plant material from the sides of roads is risky, because of the possibility of being hit by a car. I've seen plenty of videos of this on the news and youtube.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 2:13PM
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