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    Urban Wildlife Sanctuary along an Electric Transmission Right-of-Way: A Successful Partnership and IVM Demonstration

    Summary

    Successful implementation of Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) requires cooperation with stakeholders along rights-of-way. This paper describes a long term cooperative relationship between an electric utility and the Massachusetts Audubon Society (MAS). In the 1960’s National Grid’s predecessor company, New England Power (NEP), acquired land for a powerline in the City of Worcester, Massachusetts. The landlocked wooded land was of such low value the utility bought the right-of-way and the parcels of land it traversed–some 150 acres. As later development occurred, this land and other abutting properties became an accidental wilderness within Worcester. In the 1980’s, the MAS established a resource office in Worcester and began to look for opportunities to develop an urban wildlife sanctuary and environmental education center. Review of remaining open spaces in the city revealed an opportunity for a significant area to be conserved that included the powerline right-of-way. Following negotiations, a lease agreement between MAS and NEP was signed in 1991.

    NEP manages the corridor utilizing IVM principles, including the selective use of herbicides. The resulting plant community is primarily little blue stem grass, forbs, and low growing shrubs. This habitat contributes to the presence of several early successional habitat birds and butterflies. IVM  site evaluation principles were applied to meet MAS goals. As a result, the sanctuary boasts the largest butterfly species count of any Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary 78 different types of butterflies can be found. In 2006 NEP and MAS constructed interpretive kiosks to describe principles of IVM and the habitat and wildlife present in the powerline corridor.  The partnership provides a great opportunity to showcase IVM.

    Conference Proceedings Documents

    Presenters

    Thomas E. Sullivan, Senior Consultant at Energy Initiatives Group, a northeast-based energy infrastructure consulting firm. Tom Sullivan has 30 plus years of electric utility experience as an employee and consultant to National Grid and its predecessor companies. For most of his career he managed the Transmission Forestry Department. His most recent position was Director of Transmission Investment Management.

    Tom holds a master’s degree in biology from Boston University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse. He is an ISA Certified Arborist and Massachusetts Licensed Forester.

    Tom is active in professional organizations and currently serves as a Director of the Utility Arborist Association. He received the Utility Arborist Award from this organization in 2004. He was on the planning committee for ROW in 2008. Outside of professional work Tom is President of a local Land Trust, has served on local park advisory committees for 30 plus years.

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