Stronger protections are needed for the thousands of miles of utility right-of-ways (ROW) to reclaim owners rights, for environmental well-being, and to promote habitat for plants, animals and healthy local economies. By signing this petition, you will be asking the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to adopt and enforce federally recommended guidelines.
Our own property was mowed to the ground without prior notice in 2008. We lost all of our blackberries, raspberries, elderberries and dozens of seedling pine. The wildlife suffered. Three years later we were hit again. This time they cut 56 trees outside the right-of-way. Elderberries were cut along with more than 100 seedling pines planned for an animal shelter windbreak.
Currently, state policy allows utilities to grab wider and wider swaths of land while reducing easements to wastelands of monoculture and invasive species. This is fragmenting forests, degrading wetlands and farm lands where communities are struggling to maintain property values. Utilities are allowed to ignore well established, more cost effective management practices and employ massive grading, mowing and spraying processes commonly known as scorched earth.
Good management does not consider all woody vegetation dangerous. It recognizes that a properly managed, diverse plant community of small trees and shrubs can not only protect the electric facility and reduce long-term maintenance, but also enhance wildlife habitat, forest ecology and aesthetic values. It is an insult to all of our communities who sacrifice their land for the “public good,” when the only recourse to irresponsible management are horribly expensive, personal lawsuits that are rarely successful. Wisconsin deserves better.
Respectfully submitted; Lila M. Zastrow, Certified Arborist, International Society of Arboriculture, and Dave Hendrickson