Adherence to proper tree maintenance techniques and IVM principles as defined by industry best practices and standards is essential to balancing the need for tree-conductor clearance with the health of trees and the environment.
The Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters, recognizes public and private utilities that demonstrate practices that protect and enhance America’s urban forests. Tree Line USA promotes the dual goals of safe, reliable electric service and abundant, healthy trees across utility service areas. The UAA encourages all utilities to consider this important program as a means of demonstrating their commitment to the urban forest.
Utilities are responsible for maintaining over 11 million acres of right-of-way. Federal law (FAC003-02) demands strict compliance and places a heavy penalty on those that fail to maintain proper clearances on the higher voltage lines (100kV+). The results of these requirements have been a considerable increase in transmission system reliability. An unintended result, in some areas, has been an overly aggressive approach to vegetation management that has unnecessarily damaged wildlife habitat, aesthetics, and pollinators that have long benefited from Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) strategies.
IVM strategies allow utilities to achieve safety and reliability goals on pipeline and electric transmission corridors while providing numerous environmental benefits.
The UAA spearheaded an initiative to create the ROW Stewardship Accreditation Program. It recognizes utilities demonstrating excellence in sustainable IVM on the North American Transmission Grid. Program requirements extend beyond best vegetation management practices within the ROW to include consideration of factors such as implications of management of these corridors on wildlife and invasive species, as well as multiple recreational uses. The program was patterned after the accreditation models found in the forest industry, and includes independently verifiable compliance with requirements that demonstrate responsible stewardship of the environment.
Properly applied, IVM provides the reliability service required by law and significant benefits to a wide range of plant and wildlife species. (Images courtesy of Arborchem)
At present the initiative is being advanced by:
- The UAA
- The Nature Conservancy
- The Wildlife Habitat Council
- The National Wild Turkey Federation
- The Pollinator Partnership
- The Society of Municipal Arborists
- The Edison Electric Institute (EEI)
- The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
- The EPA
- The Asplundh Tree Expert Co.
- Davey Tree Experts
- Wright Tree Co.
- Davey Resource Group
- CN Utility Consulting
- Environmental Consultants, Inc.
- And several leaders from the electric utility industry
For more information on ROW Stewardship, contact Dovetail Partners, Inc.