Integrated Vegetation Management
Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) is the practice of promoting desirable, stable, low-growing plant communities that will resist invasion by tall growing tree species using appropriate, environmentally sound, and cost-effective control method.
Resulting benefits include reduced costs and enhanced habitat for wildlife and pollinators. IVM implementation is typically a modification of existing, typical practices. Therefore, the transition from an existing vegetation management regime to a program that incorporates IVM can be straightforward.
Our team has successfully developed, implemented, and managed IVM programs on 13,000+ miles of utility corridors and hundreds of acres of company-owned properties. We understand the complexities of vegetation management, including economics, scheduling, invasive species management, and related environmental compliance obligations.
Typical vegetation management is completed strictly by mechanical means on a cycle dependent on regulatory requirements. IVM reduces the effort by implementing a routine herbicide and mowing regime that is based on system planning and mapping. Case studies have identified an annual vegetation management budget decrease of 30-50% that is sustainable into the future.
Long-Term Control and Maintenance
After IVM is established, rights-of-way and other lands have more stable, low-growing, and less intrusive plant communities. These plant communities can compete against and resist invasion of incompatible vegetation making IVM an effective long-term vegetation management tool.
Utilities generally manage their rights-of-way depending on regulatory requirements, including maintenance of visual and physical access to their facilities. Strictly mechanical methods of removing woody vegetation leads to increased shrub and tree growth. IVM successfully suppresses unwanted vegetation over the long-term leading to more effective aerial and ground facility surveys, emergency service restoration, and planning.
IVM creates, enhances, and maintains habitat for wildlife, including for the monarch butterfly and other pollinators, while simultaneously promoting natural erosion control and water quality improvements. Agencies, the public, and other stakeholders view these environmental benefits favorably.
Merjent customizes IVM programs for each client’s needs and expectations by identifying client-specific objectives for vegetation management, discussing how IVM can accomplish these objectives, and the ultimately developing and implementing IVM strategies. Merjent provides the following spectrum of IVM services from planning to public outreach and stakeholder engagement:
- Program Development
- System Mapping
- Priority Area Identification
- Regulatory Compliance
- Training and On-Call Support
- Evaluation and Assessment
- Public Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement
Monarch Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances
Clients with energy and transportation projects who implement IVM may benefit additionally from participation in the Monarch Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (Monarch CCAA). IVM practices are complementary to conservation measures within the Monarch CCAA. CCAA partners receive incidental take authorization for the monarch butterfly on enrolled lands, if the monarch is federally listed.
CCAA partners create, enhance, and maintain habitat for monarchs, while conducting general operations, vegetation management, and rights-of-way maintenance activities. During the application process, CCAA partners identify lands they would like to enroll. Partners must implement a subset of select conservation measures to create and maintain a proportion of their enrolled lands as monarch habitat. Each year, partners track conservation measures, conduct effectiveness monitoring, and provide a report to the CCAA coordinator.
Merjent assists energy and transportation clients with Monarch CCAA participation in the following ways:
- Liaising with the CCAA program coordinator;
- Preparing the application package;
- Proposing a plan for conservation measure implementation;
- Tracking conservation measures implemented annually;
- Monitoring suitable habitat through annual on-the- ground survey efforts in select locations; and
- Preparing and submitting annual reports to the CCAA program coordinator.
Clients interested in the CCAA need to apply before the species is protected to secure take authorization
Leslie TeWinkel, PhD
Integrated Vegetation Management Services