Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP)

Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) Practices around Utility Rights-Of-Way

Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) practices reduce the need for pesticides, promote healthy ecosystems, and provide measurable results, such as greater natural species diversity along rights-of-way and better control of invasive species. Control options for IVM may include techniques such as:

  • biological;
  • chemical; 
  • cultural;
  • manual; 
  • mechanical; and
  • controlled burning (in some cases).

The desired outcome of IVM around utility rights-of-way is the development of lush shrub or grassy areas that do not interfere with overhead power lines, pose a fire hazard, or hamper access.

EPA was a leader of a 2006 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Edison Electric Institute, U.S. Department of Agriculture (Forest Service), and U.S. Department of the Interior (Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service), that helped establish sound IVM practices as the standard for utility rights-of-way (ROW) management. The Edison Electric Institute consists of associated shareholder-owned electric utilities in the U.S., international affaliates and industry associates worldwide. That MOU committed the signatories to:

  • Promote IVM and environmental stewardship as an integral part of managing rights-of-way by electric utilities.
  • Establish guidance on good IVM practices.
  • Publish IVM practices currently employed by utilities that demonstrate good environmental stewardship in managing rights-of-way.
  • Facilitate the use of IVM as the utility rights-of-way industry standard.
  • Develop sound working relationships between the utility industry and land management agencies to achieve both electric reliability and ecological goals.

In 2016, EPA was a signatory to a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among the Edison Electric Institute, Utility Arborist Association, U.S. Department of Interior (National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (Forest Service). The purpose of this new MOU is to facilitate cooperation and coordination among the parties regarding vegetation management within and immediately adjacent to existing and future powerline ROWs and associated facilities. This MOU will facilitate implementation of cost effective and environmentally sound vegetation management plans, procedures, and practices for powerline ROWs that will reduce adverse environmental and cultural impacts while enhancing the ability of utilities to provide uninterrupted electrical service to customers and address public safety. Federal agencies have established policies and procedures relating to vegetation, watershed, fire and fuels, wildlife habitat, enhancing pollinator habitat and invasive species management that may help facilitate the MOU objectives.

The Federal agencies' procedures may enhance the reliability and safety of electrical energy transmission while protecting the environment, and natural and cultural resources within and immediately adjacent to powerline ROWs on Federal lands. This MOU addresses the use of incorporating vegetation management practices into the existing and future ROW grants/authorizations across Federal lands.

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