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Ask Andy: Herbicide application Q&A

Beginning in June, approximately 1,000 miles of power line corridors are scheduled for herbicide application. We asked Andy Olson, Supervisor of Forestry Services, to answer some frequently-asked questions regarding this yearly maintenance process. 

Is this harmful to pollinating insects or the monarch butterfly? 
No. The products used by our contractors are non-toxic to honey bees, monarchs, and other pollinating insects. We only treat the tall-growing, woody plants within the powerline corridor. We’re careful to avoid low-growing shrubs, wildflowers, grasses and wild berry plants. This way, the pollinator-friendly plants eventually dominate the powerline corridor and are a rich nectar source for pollinating insects. 

I’ve seen machinery that can mow the brush. Wouldn’t it be better to clear it that way? 
Mowing is only a temporary solution, because these plants grow back even thicker than before. Instead, when we permanently remove the tree species, the low-growing plants and shrubs flourish.

Do these applications pollute the lakes, streams, or groundwater? 
We do not ever target anything that is within or directly adjacent to standing water. Applicators receive extensive training and select the most appropriate product for each site condition. Interestingly, several of the products we use are also used by state agencies to control invasive lake weeds. 

Why can’t ECE just bury the lines on my property and avoid the problem altogether? 
We hear this question a lot. It is much more expensive to construct, maintain, and locate outages on underground lines. However, you do have the option to contribute to the cost of burying the line within your land. 

I really don’t want herbicide used on my property. What are my options? 
We are able to accommodate your preference by providing some alternatives. With your input, we can create a detailed plan for you to maintain the brush on your property, while we monitor your progress closely. For a fee, we also offer mechanical-only maintenance. The goal of Forestry Services is to create a cohesive plan that provides safe and reliable electricity, while respecting your property.

More information is available in the Trees and Lines section of our website. ECE’s Forestry Services team thanks you in advance for your cooperation and understanding as this important work is completed.

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