Land managers and utility foresters understand how important integrated vegetation management (IVM) is for providing safe, reliable service to the public, but may be uncertain how to implement effective IVM programs in their areas. With decades of vegetation management experience in the electric industry, Rick Johnstone, president, IVM Partners, Inc., has helped several federal organizations adopt best IVM practices. Johnstone offers these 10 steps to develop and implement a successful IVM plan.

1. Walk the rights of way, mapping features that will need special accommodations, such as waterways, forests, native species and wildlife habitats.

2. Consult stakeholders and learn their concerns and needs for vegetation management in the area.

3. Determine which plant and brush species should be controlled and which you want to foster.

4. Consider aesthetics, knowing where and when parts of the right of way will be most visible, then time your control measures appropriately. For example, don’t apply a broad-spectrum herbicide along an interstate highway two weeks before a major traveling holiday.

5. Use a multistep control program in areas where achieving ultimate control may be too severe a change if done all at once.

6. Set realistic thresholds, based on the specific area. Stating that no plant will be allowed to grow taller than 6 feet, for instance, might be too restrictive and impractical.

7. Follow up each year. After major tree or brush applications or removals, herbicide spot applications may be necessary the following season to control regrowth from roots and cut stubble.

8. Use a variety of control techniques, including herbicide applications, mowing and hand trimming. The best integrated vegetation management plan contains multiple control methods.

9. Consider herbicide application options, such as broadcast versus spot spraying.

10. Match herbicides to the species you need to control, and look for those products that will release desirable native species.

For more information on maintaining clear rights of way and increasing site safety, visit: landmanagement.dupont.com.