Regulatory stakeholder interest to address potential impacts from vegetation management activities along our client’s electric transmission infrastructure spurred the development of uniform Best Management Practices (BMPs) for integrated vegetation management and operations and maintenance of their electric transmission lines. Specific stakeholder concerns were raised over the ecological impacts of herbicide use and disturbances arising from management activities within more than 20,000 acres and hundreds of miles of transmission line corridors throughout the Northeastern US.
TRC provided stakeholder outreach, strategic guidance, biological surveying, geographic information system (GIS) data analysis and management, and cross-functional planning to develop a comprehensive set of practical and effective BMPs to protect threatened and endangered (T&E) species during vegetation management and operations and maintenance activities by our client, while fostering the creation of stable plant communities that improve the potential for general wildlife habitat and plant biodiversity, and promote conditions for threatened and endangered species to develop pioneer populations.
BMPs were crafted through careful consideration and evaluation of existing vegetation management methods and practices, and typical maintenance work practices with associated environmental protection measures; review of available data and completion of updated biological surveys of the actual T&E species that occur in the subject transmission line management areas; an assessment of the effectiveness of past work protection and conservation plans for T&E species based on several projects and construction compliance and post-construction monitoring of management areas of these projects; and the development of enhanced and new BMPs to be proactively implemented to further protect T&E species during vegetation management and maintenance work on our clients’ electric transmission line corridors.
The development of systematic BMPs has resulted in a cost-effective and practical approach to threatened and endangered species protection that satisfies regulatory stakeholder interests, ensures protection of valuable ecological resources, and provides our client with much-needed flexibility during transmission line management.