FAQs About Vegetation Management
Basal Bark Application Method
Wolverine is committed to delivering safe, reliable electric service along its 1,600 miles of electric transmission lines. Knowledgeable and selective use of herbicides, through a vegetation management program, is one tool Wolverine uses to achieve this goal.
Unfortunately, hand-cutting and mowing remove only the visible part of the plant, and the roots of the plant remain in the ground. A plant’s natural reaction to cutting is to vigorously resprout from the root in order to survive. Some tree species can resprout and grow ten feet in one season.
Treating incompatible tree species with a herbicide kills the roots. By eliminating roots, the endless cycle of cutting/resprouting/cutting is broken. Also, wildlife habitat is enhanced with a diverse mix of grasses and fruiting shrubs.
This herbicide mix is not applied in or near wetlands. It is applied in strict accordance with manufacturer and Department of Agriculture guidelines.
Wolverine uses this application all season long. After the application, the treated plants may have some small leaves or no leaves at all. This is a sign that the herbicide is working. Eventually, the treated brush dies, usually within four to six weeks.
Crew members wearing backpack sprayers apply the herbicides. The entire right-of-way is not sprayed; only the incompatible sapling trees and brush are sprayed. Low-growing shrubs and fruit trees on the outer edges of the right-of-way that are beneficial to wildlife are not directly sprayed.
Wolverine hires trained and licensed contractors certified by the Michigan Department of Agriculture to safely perform the work.
The chart compares skin contact with Garlon 4 to skin contact with other common substances. It is highly unlikely that a person will be exposed to the spray mix because it is only applied to the lower parts of the woody stem. Since the leaves are not sprayed with this application method, it is highly unlikely that animals will consume the herbicide; however, if they do, much of the herbicide is quickly excreted in the urine and feces, and is not harmful.