For Immediate Release
Baltimore, MD – (September 22, 2015) – National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, announced that Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) has Certified Wildlife Habitats® with NWF’s Business Garden for Wildlife program.
BGE has implemented Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) at six high voltage transmission right of way (ROW) locations throughout its service territory. IVM minimizes clear cut mowing techniques and makes use of selective herbicide treatments to remove invasive species. Native plant communities are allowed to thrive, resulting in a stable meadow or prairie plant community in the electric transmission wire zone of the ROW corridor that is compatible with the safe and reliable operation of BGE’s electric system.
IVM enhances food sources for wildlife by allowing native vegetation to establish. Native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees provide both sustenance and shelter for birds, small mammals, insects, pollinators and other wildlife. Butterfly species such as monarchs, tiger swallowtail, and common buckeye utilize the habitat. The tall grasses and wildflowers in the wire zone, and the grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs in the border zone, provide escape cover and nesting/egg-laying locations. Dead cane and brush is left in the area to provide nesting sites as well.
Rich Mason, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Biologist, explained the importance of native habitats, "The IVM approach is far more beneficial to wildlife than traditional right of way management. Pollinators, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals will all benefit by spot treating tall growing trees and eliminating mowing. Pollinating plants will remain through the growing season instead of being mowed. Our ROW breeding bird surveys revealed a good diversity of birds that require old field habitat for successful nesting. The populations of old field nesting birds is in decline and the IVM managed ROW offers important nesting habitat for these species. In addition we have documented many species of forest birds that use the rich habitat of the right-of-way to forage."
BGE’s Certified Wildlife Habitats® are now part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a national effort to restore critical habitat for pollinators. Sam Droege, U.S. Geological Survey Wildlife Biologist, said, "These days rights of way present one of the best opportunities to create pollinator habitat in the east. The new aesthetic now is to not to create more areas of mown grass but to use areas that need to stay open as pollinator gardens, creating beautiful landscapes at the same time." Droege further explained the benefits of IVM and said, "Not only can rights of way become beautiful and regional landscapes for the conservation of pollinators, but they can also save communities money and conserve fuel as mowing costs are reduced."
Bill Rees, BGE’s IVM lead, said, "One success story is our work on the approximately 200 acre ROW within the Patuxent National Wildlife Research Refuge. Since 2010, we’ve collaborated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other groups to monitor the wildlife within the Refuge over the long term. Since 2013, our observations have shown an increase in native bee, butterfly and bird species as IVM has led to increased populations of native herbs and forbs that provide nectar and expanded populations of native shrubs that provide berries. We’re excited with the observed benefits of IVM on this property and to be able to expand the use of IVM into other ROW areas within our service territory."
The power line ROW segments now under IVM by BGE include:
BGE, headquartered in Baltimore, is Maryland’s largest natural gas and electric utility, delivering power to more than 1.25 million electric customers and more than 650,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland. The company’s approximately 3,200 employees are committed to the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas and electricity, as well as enhanced energy management, conservation, environmental stewardship and community assistance. BGE is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with 2014 revenues of approximately $27.4 billion. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization, inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program encourages responsible gardening that helps pollinators and other wildlife thrive. With nearly 200,000 locations and growing, NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitats and Community Wildlife Habitats recognize individuals, schools, groups and whole communities committed to providing habitat for wildlife. For more information on gardening for wildlife and details on how to become certified, visit www.nwf.org/habitat.