Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative’s vegetation managers attempt to balance our need for clearance with prerequisites of the environment by applying an integrated vegetation management plan. This plan provides options to our manager so they can prescribe treatments that maximize the control of tall-growing vegetation while minimizing the impacts on the environment. We maintain thousands of miles of power line right-of-way, many of which pass through sensitive areas including Shenandoah National Park. We are permitted to use herbicides for brush control in sensitive areas because they are the safest and most effective way to manage tall-growing tree species.
Mechanical mowing and chainsaw clearing alone does not manage vegetation. Removing only the top of the plant leaves the root system intact which encourages vigorous re-sprouting. As the trees grow faster and the densities increase, the risk of injury to maintenance or repair crews increases as does the risk of an extended power outage.
Herbicides, however, control the entire plant and promote the development of a desirable low growing native grass wildflower plant community that is easier to maintain and much more beneficial to wildlife. As the desirable plant community develops it competes for growing space with the tall growing woody vegetation and over time nature actually helps us reduce the amount of herbicide we need to use. This strategy is not only good for the environment, but it saves money.
Additionally, the herbicides we use were scientifically designed to work on enzymes found only in plants — not in people, animals or insects. The products we use have undergone years of testing and have been approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only after determining that they will not adversely affect the environment when applied properly.
Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative attempts to notify property owners in advance of the work we need to do on our right-of-way. We are concerned about the environment and directly supervise Weed Control Inc., a reputable and properly licensed contractor, as it makes these applications for us.