Cooperative Living April 2024 - 26

SAFETYSENSE
Safeguarding
Wildlife
Maintaining reliability while promoting
healthy ecosystems
by Jim Robertson, Staff Writer
F
rom squirrels traveling the power
line highway to birds of prey
perching atop utility poles,
electric cooperatives in Virginia and
Maryland share common causes of
temporary power outages. Tree-related
issues generally top the list, but wildlife
is a close second, particularly squirrels
and birds.
Your electric co-op is as committed
to protecting wildlife and their habitats
as it is to providing safe and reliable
power to members. Th rough eff ective
vegetation management and installation
of protection devices on system
infrastructure, co-ops can maintain
reliable service, safe for all.
" We all have a role to play in creating
and conserving wildlife habitat, " says
Stephen Living, habitat education
coordinator for the Virginia Department
of Wildlife Resources. " Power line
Pollinator garden at
Rappahannock Electric
Cooperative's Blue Ridge
district offi ce.
rights-of-way can provide important
early successional habitat. Many of
Virginia's Species of Greatest
Conservation Need (as defi ned by
Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan) rely
on grasslands. Managing vegetation
along utility corridors to promote
diverse, native plant communities
can help fi ll this need. "
CREATING HABITATS
Electric cooperatives fully embrace
technology and continually seek
innovative solutions. Th is helps attract
highly qualifi ed professionals to lead
these eff orts. Cindy Devlin Musick,
senior director of vegetation
management services at Rappahannock
Electric Cooperative in Fredericksburg,
Va., and her team utilize integrated
vegetation-management practices to
preserve and create wildlife habitats.
" Th e establishment of a vigorous
community of grasses, wildfl owers, and
low-growing shrubs on the right-of-way
corridor limits the germination of new
tree seedlings on the site, " explains
Musick. Dead trees are topped off to
create ideal habitat conditions for
raccoons and woodpeckers, or perches
for larger birds of prey.
Musick, who is in the fi nal year of
her doctorate in forestry management,
also maintains benefi cial relationships
with the Virginia Department of
Forestry and various Cooperative
Extension offi ces to ensure use of
best practices.
POLLINATOR GARDENS
A variety of areas within solar
farms and underneath transmission
power lines have been designated for
pollinators, like butterfl ies and bees.
Th ese gardens are intended for
growing specifi c types of nectar and
pollen-producing plants. For more than
four years, Southern Maryland Electric
Cooperative has maintained a pollinator
garden surrounding its solar arrays.
" Working together with Mother
Nature is mutually benefi cial, " says
SMECO Vegetation Management
Supervisor Kolby Corrigan. " Anything
we can do for the environment is good
for everybody. "
Started as a pilot program, the
24 * Cooperative Living * April 2024
co-opliving.com
PHOTO BY ROBERT LENNOX, COURTESY VIRGINIA OSPREY FOUNDATION
http://www.co-opliving.com

Cooperative Living April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Cooperative Living April 2024

Cooperative Living April 2024 - 1
Cooperative Living April 2024 - 2
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