Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) performs extensive work each year to cut and maintain rights-of-way for new and existing electric lines along its 4,500-mile system. Well-maintained rights-of-way are essential to providing reliable and safe electric service as well as ideal habitats for wildlife and low-growth vegetation.
Recently, CVEC was awarded a “Habitat Partners© Certificate” from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) for work done to maintain their rights-of-way. The Certificate is awarded as part of the DGIF’s Corporate Habitat program and is open to businesses and industries interested in habitat improvement projects on their lands which will make a substantial contribution to the welfare of wildlife communities.
CVEC was awarded the certificate for recognition of their large-scale habitat management efforts in its rights-of-way to control invasive exotic species, minimize mowing and herbicide applications, and promote the growth of native perennial flowers, grasses, and sedges, which support a great diversity of wildlife species such as pollinators and quail.
In an effort to protect milkweed plants and honeybee hives in/near the rights-of-way, CVEC uses its vegetation management software to map areas where the plants or hives are located, ensuring they are not disturbed by crews or contractors working in the area. CVEC also made use of its vegetation management system to remove trees that are crowding and shading plants vital to pollinators, including milkweed – the Monarch butterfly plant of choice.
CVEC’s vegetation management efforts promise positive results for both the environment and CVEC’s service reliability. CVEC invests $2.5 million annually in its vegetation management system in order to increase reliability for its members and to remove danger trees from areas near the electric lines. Clearing the rights-of-way also allows safe access for CVEC linemen and trucks if the power needs to be restored or lines need to be repaired or upgraded.
The investment in vegetation management is paying off and, by systematically clearing the rights-of-way, CVEC is making room for plants and habitat that are critical to the survival of pollinators and other wildlife species.