Integrated vegetation management on powerline rights of ways: effects of vegetation treatment on plant communities and wildlife diversity

2016 | Christopher M. Halle, PhD, Sonoma State University and Co-Investigator Claudia Luke, PhD, Sonoma State University

A long-term right-of-way (ROW) research network is being established in the western United States, through a grant provided by TREE Fund to Sonoma State University. The initial network will consist of three sites in northern California to study ROW vegetation management. The sites will compare the efficacy of mechanical only vs. mechanical plus herbicide treatment in establishing low-growing native plant communities in a range of complicated western ecosystems. The effects on local animals and pollinators will also be studied. Costs for specific treatments will be closely tracked as the low-growing plant communities are established. It is anticipated that ecosystem effects will generally be positive and similar to the long-running “Bramble and Byrnes” study begun in Pennsylvania in 1953. The ROW habitat created through large tracts of Pennsylvania forest appears to support increased abundance of small mammals, birds, and pollinators1-9. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) provided the initial seed money for the TREE Fund grant, and are offering matching “challenge grants” to engage other western utilities in expanding the network across a wider range of habitats. To become involved, or for more information, please contact J. Eric Smith at TREE Fund.