AEP & KDFWR Team to Create Wildlife Habitats Under Transmission Lines

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American Electric Power (AEP) and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) have entered into a partnership to encourage private property owners to develop wildlife habitats in transmission rights-of-way on their lands.

Under the new Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Program, AEP will pay qualified private property owners in Kentucky to maintain transmission line rights-of-way on their property in a manner that will support and enhance wildlife diversity, according to Mike Chedester, AEP forestry supervisor. AEP has similar programs in Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

Because AEP must manage tall plant growth within its easements to provide safe and reliable service to customers, the company maintains its rights-of-way on a regular schedule. Many of those rights-of-way already provide good wildlife food and cover because crews selectively cut tall-growing trees and leave small shrubs, herbaceous growth and grasses. With some additional effort by property owners, those rights-of-way could be enhanced even more to provide food, cover, nesting and brooding areas, travel corridors and edge habitat.

Under the new program, AEP has developed a cost-sharing plan for property owners willing to enhance wildlife habitat near power lines crossing their property. The company will provide 80 percent of the cost to improve wildlife habitat, to a maximum of $300 per acre. AEP will also provide an additional $100 per acre to property owners who maintain the right-of-way for at least three years. Each participating landowner can receive a maximum of $2,000.

The KDFWR will provide technical expertise and teach property owners on how best to develop their land, Chedester said. Private lands biologists will visit the property and determine what wildlife species it is best suited to support. They will provide specific recommendations for habitat development. Landowners must follow the ecommendations in order to participate in the cost-sharing program. Recommendations could include selective clearing of tall growth, selective retention of small shrubs, grasses and herbaceous growth, and planting of new wildlife food and cover. Interested landowners can contact Mike Chedester or Phil Ross with AEP at 1-800-572-1113 or machedester@aep.com or ptross@aep.com or the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources at 1-800-858-1549 for more information.

American Electric Power, an energy company with a balanced portfolio of energy assets, owns and operates more than 42,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the United States and select international markets and is the largest electricity generator in the U.S. AEP is a leading wholesale marketer of energy commodities, utilizing its energy expertise and risk management skills to make optimal use of its generation, natural gas pipeline systems, natural gas storage, coal mines and inland barge fleet. AEP is also one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with almost 5 million customers linked to AEP's 11-state electricity transmission and distribution grid. The company is based in Columbus, Ohio.