ROW Stewardship and Digital Solutions

Posted by Christopher Rodgers



I had the pleasure of speaking at a workshop during last month’s New York Utility Arborist Association annual meeting to discuss ROW Stewardship and Digital Solutions. The focus of the presentation was to demonstrate how Clearion can help organizations implement and manage the best practices that have been developed by two leading environmental teams in our industry, the Energy Resources Center (ERC) and the Right-of-Way Stewardship Council (ROWSC).

Iris Caldwell, the Program Manager of Sustainable Landscapes at the ERC, has been working with Clearion to help us ensure that our mobile data collection tools are standardized to support the proper identification of habitat and allow participants to contribute to a professionally curated national database. The Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group that she leads also met last week in Chicago and we thank her for a very well run conference! Over 100 Participants from across the country attended. Iris has kindly agreed to post an upcoming “guest blog” on our site about pollinators in decline and the working group that has been established to promote habitat partnerships across industries. Please take a look at this blog as well if you would like to learn more! Iris’ passion for the mission of the ERC (below) is inspiring.

Engaging diverse stakeholders in a collaborative environment that promotes pollinator habitats and healthy ecosystems along rights-of-way by providing expertise, cost-effective best management practices, and industry-driven tools and resources.

In short, the ERC is trying to remove barriers for habitat development on ROWs nationwide by building coordination and knowledge sharing among different sectors and regulatory bodies. By taking lessons learned from our DOTs and sharing them with electric utilities and railroads or vice versa, the goal is to inspire every industry that is responsible for our ROWs to recognize both the economic and social value of cultivating habitat while maintaining management practices that are compatible with both the required use and stewardship excellence. ROW organizations from different sectors and diverse environments are realizing that they share more similarities than differences when it comes to managing landscapes, and they can build upon these similarities to gain new expertise and insight. This approach also helps ROW managers with a unified approach to regulatory approvals from organizations like the Fish and Wildlife service.

Where the ERC and Clearion truly intersect is in the collection and management of habitat information. According to the ERC, there is currently no comprehensive geospatial habitat database where ROW organizations can store and maintain habitat data, develop metrics, and prioritize new habitat areas with coordinated, regional efforts. This is why Clearion is working with both the ERC and the ROWSC to ensure our solutions can be used to contribute to the ERC Geospatial Habitat Database, document environmental initiatives, and ultimately earn ROWSC accreditation (if desired) or demonstrate operational excellence.

Clearion can be used to help ROW teams map and manage:

  • Endangered species locations
  • Acres of critical pollinator habitat for honey bees, butterflies, etc.
  • Invasive species locations
  • Sustainable and/or Compatible/Incompatible vegetation areas
  • Trends in herbicide usage
  • Visibility and understanding of these and other regional trends

By combining Clearion’s tools with this approach to habitat management and stewardship organizations can stay ahead of regulations, lead the narrative around their environmental achievements, and foster cross-industry collaboration.

Please use the links in this article to learn more and reach out if you have any questions!