WISCONSIN, (WFRV) – Any mention of snow is off the table as summer approaches, but the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is making sure a living snow fence is added before we lose the too-short warm weather. But what is a snow fence? And how does it help drivers during the winter?

According to WisDOT, there is a plan in progress to add a snow fence in Manitowoc and Brown County as part of an I-43 improvement project.

The fence is scheduled to be built along portions of I-43 from WIS 310 in Manitowoc County to WIS 96 in Brown County – and WisDOT says it’s much needed because the areas are known for having whiteout conditions during winter storms.

What is a living snow fence?

A living snow fence should not be confused with a human-built fence seen along a highway or road. It is made from trees, shrubs, and grasses along highways, roads, and ditches.

WisDOT reports it has traditionally planted rows of trees and shrubs as living snow fences in the past.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)

How do snow fences help?

The trees, shrubs, and grasses – or living barriers – will create a buffer that traps and controls blowing and drifting snow before it reaches the road.

WisDOT explains this will help I-43 because it is vulnerable to blizzard conditions because of open spaces, farm fields, and weather generated by Lake Michigan.

Ultimately, WisDOT points out a few things that the fence will help with:

  • Reduce blowing and drifting snow on the roadway.
  • Improve visibility and road conditions.
  • Reduce winter maintenance costs, and pavement wear and tear.
  • Lessens environmental impact with less salt use, fewer truck trips, and less fuel consumption.

Living snow fences have several advantages over commercial wood slat or polyethylene snow fences. WisDOT explains they are less expensive, they do not have to be installed or taken down every year, and are almost maintenance-free.

Transportation officials say the project is scheduled to be completed in November of 2022.