Controlling vegetation in utility rights of way to meet Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) guidelines can be an added strain on tight maintenance budgets. One way to maximize crew productivity and stretch budgets is to adopt an integrated vegetation management (IVM) program that includes selective herbicide treatments for effective long-lasting weed and brush control with fewer return visits.

“You have more options when you include a selective herbicide in an IVM program,” says Nelsen Money, president of NRM-VMS, Inc., and past president of the Utility Arborist Association. “If you’re strictly doing manual or mechanical mowing, you probably have to mow at least the belly of a right of way every two or three years, depending on the height of the line and speed of regrowth. However, if you initially mow and follow with spot applications on resprouts a year later, you can typically wait five to eight years before doing further work on that right of way.”

Longer Control, More Environmental Benefits
Another benefit with selective herbicide treatments is establishment of desirable vegetation that improves aesthetics and helps slow growth of unwanted brush species that can interfere with powerlines or maintenance crews. More desirable vegetation also helps create sustainable rights of way for greater environmental benefits.

“By converting a right of way to successional, low-growing grasses and herbaceous plants, establishment of seeds from adjacent trees will be deterred, making it difficult for saplings to survive,” Money notes. “The right vegetation also encourages an animal community to thrive and eat tree seeds. All of these different dynamics help extend treatment cycles.”

Money estimates that a utility working to reclaim an uncontrolled right of way might incur initial mechanical clearing costs of $5,000 to $8,000 per acre, depending on site conditions, varying labor costs, regulatory restrictions and other factors.

When that program is followed the next year by selective herbicide sprout treatment, estimated application costs can drop to $500 to $800 per acre. Subsequent spot treatments on the few weed species that survive may not be needed for five or six years, adding more savings, he says.

Less Product to Handle, Store
“In the past, herbicide treatments were in pounds or gallons per acre,” Money says. “Newer herbicides are usually only ounces per acre.” That rate difference means substantially less product needs to be handled, stored or hauled by crews. And lower rates mean there’s significantly less herbicide being introduced into the environment.

DuPont™ Viewpoint® and Streamline® herbicides offer effective brush control for greater safety along utility rights of way at low use rates. Viewpoint® provides effective control of hard-to-manage brush, including boxelder, hackberry and mesquite. Streamline® controls many brush species, while promoting grass understory.

For more information on effective vegetation management in utility rights of way, contact your DuPont representative.