Managing Vegetation Under Transmission Lines Helps Wildlife Too!
Clockwise from upper left: Yellow-breasted chat by Bill Hubick, Swallowtail butterfly by John and Karen Hollingsworth, Brown thrasher by Bill Hubick and Field sparrow by Bill Hubick.
A pilot project using integrated vegetation management (IVM) is underway in the South River Greenway in Anne Arundel County, MD. The Chesapeake Bay Field Office is assisting Baltimore Gas and Electric with combining vegetation management for reliable transmission of electricity, and habitat needs of birds, pollinators, and other wildlife.
Management of transmission Right of Ways using IVM methods mimics natural processes (fire, floods, and beaver) and is less disturbing to wildlife then traditional techniques. Studies have shown that shrub/old field species of wildlife and sun loving plants can thrive in Right of Ways with proper management.
The Chesapeake Bay Field Office is coordinating surveys of birds, butterflies, bees and plants, to provide BGE information that will help make future decisions about habitat management.
Traditional management includes:
• Year round mowing to control woody vegetation
• Topping and felling trees with chainsaws
• Broadcast use of herbicides without regard to sensitive habitats
IVM management includes:
• Using low volume herbicide directly under the wires to control woody vegetation
• Allowing shrub thickets to grow on steep slopes and wetlands within the wire zone.
• Allowing a linear shrub thicket to grow in the between wire zone and forest edge.
• Removing specific trees with targeted use of herbicides.
Benefits of IVM
• Less disturbance to bird nests and other wildlife
• Creation of a mosaic of grasslands and shrub habitat
• Control of non-native invasive woody and herbaceous plant species
• More wildflowers for pollinators like butterflies and bees
• Less noise and air pollution from mowers
• Potentially lower cost after initial work is completed
This is one of three pilot project areas in Maryland that will help BGE make a decision about future management. If the outcome of the pilot project allows for reliable transmission of electricity, is cost competitive with traditional vegetation management, and benefits wildlife, then Integrated Vegetation Management techniques can be used on several thousand acres of right of way in the BGE service area.
The Chesapeake Bay Field Office received an environmental award from Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) for its participation on an Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) pilot project. The award was part of a corporate recognition program that is given to employees and their external partners for environmental achievement.
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