BGE Rights of Way
Baltimore Gas and Electric has created wildlife habitats along its power line rights of way
Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) has created habitats along its power line rights of way (ROWs) that improve habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife by providing essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover and places to raise young. Six sites have been certified as NWF Certified Wildlife Habitats® and Bird Friendly Habitats.
Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM)
BGE has been implementing a technique for managing vegetation in its power line ROWs that restores native plant communities; providing for wildlife habitat that is much improved over traditional, non-selective mowing techniques. Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM), works to develop sustainable plant communities that are compatible with the safe and reliable operation of the electrical facilities while controlling non-native invasive plants, and improving wildlife and pollinator habitat.
Controlling invasive and other incompatible vegetation allows more growing space for native low-growing grass, forbs, and shrubs. In order to achieve this, mechanical and manual cutting are minimized and herbicide treatments are used only where necessary to develop the compatible plant communities. The result is a stable meadow or prairie plant community in the electric transmission wire zone of the ROW corridor, and consideration for a shrub-scrub habitat along the ROW border zone whenever possible.
Benefits, Results and Research of BGE’s IVM Program
Monitoring and data collection in the ROW by researchers and other knowledgeable individuals focuses on plant community changes and their impact on wildlife. Results are used for the education of company and contract personnel, other utilities, public agencies, elected officials, conservationists, students, and the general public.
- Provide environmental services and habitat for a variety of species, including:
- Bird nesting and/or feeding
- Shelter and/or forage for mammal species
- Habitat for pollinator species
- Routes for migratory species
- Education on the importance of native vegetation, invasive species removal, and wildlife habitat.
- Within 3 years the native seed bank is able to emerge and is now flourishing with species such as common milkweed, butterfly weed, joe pye weed and cardinal flower
- Invasive vegetation mitigation has enhanced foraging opportunities and nectar sources for wildlife by allowing native vegetation to establish
- Native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees provide food in the form of seeds, berries, roots, and herbaceous forage to birds, small mammals, herbivorous insects, pollinators and other wildlife
- Utilization of habitat by - butterfly species such as monarchs, tiger swallowtail, and common buckeye
- Cover and nesting/egg-laying locations provided by the tall grasses and wildflowers in the wire zone, and the grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs in the border zone
- Nesting sites are provided by dead cane and brush left in the area
The methods and results of IVM have been studied at Patuxent National Wildlife Research Refuge near Laurel, MD and at other locations for a number of years. An example of the research being conducted at Patuxent Wildlife Refuge Center includes a native bee study by the New Jersey Institute of Technology in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The study tested whether transmission line easements could provide quality habitat for native pollinators, thereby providing source populations of these insects and increasing pollination services across the landscape. Their research documents that IVM provides habitat that supports a greater diversity of bee species as compared to traditional management of ROW areas such as periodic mowing. This information can be used to inform others of the benefits of IVM in creating important habitat for pollinator species.
The power line ROW segments now under IVM by BGE include:
- Patuxent National Research Refuge, running from Route 295 to the Amtrak line in Laurel
- South River Greenway Partnership, from Waugh Chapel Substation to Route 50 in Davidsonville
- Columbia/Lake Elkhorn Vicinity, from Oakland Mills Road to Carved Stone, in Columbia
- Liberty Reservoir, running from Cockeys Mill Road in Reisterstown to Deer Park Rd
- Flag Ponds, running from Flag Ponds Parkway to the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant in Lusby, southern Anne Arundel County
- American Chestnut Land Trust, from Dares Beach Road to Parker's Creek in Prince Fredrick.