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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 30, Issue 5 — September 2004


Richard H. Yahner and Russell J. Hutnik

Abstract: Integrated vegetation management (IVM) has been used for the maintenance of vegetation along an electric utility transmission right-of-way (ROW) at the State Game Lands (SGL 33) Research and Demonstration Area, Centre County, Pennsylvania, U.S., since 1987. In addition, the wire­border zone method was implemented on the ROW in 1987. The wire­border zone method results in forb­grass­shrub cover types in wire zones and shrub cover types in border zones. The SGL 33 Research and Demonstration Area has been studied since 1953, which makes this 51-year-old project the longest continuous study documenting the effects of mechanical and herbicidal maintenance on flora and fauna along an electric transmission ROW. In this paper, our objective is to present target (undesirable) tree density and cover-type development in response to IVM prior to the most recent treatment (2000) and 2 to 3 years after treatment. Results were compared to those obtained from the late 1980s and 1990s. For all units combined (except handcut) in 1999, average target tree densities prior to treatment were 288 trees/ha (117 trees/ac) in wire zones and 759 trees/ha (307 trees/ac) in border zones. Excellent control of target tree density [62 to 124 trees/ha (25 to 50 trees/ac)] was noted in wire zones of mowing plus herbicide, stem­foliage spray, and foliage spray units; moderate control [371 to 680 trees/ha (150 to 275 trees/ac)] was observed in low-volume basal spray, high-volume basal spray units, and mowing units; and poor control (4,818 trees/ha [1,951 trees/ac]) was found in the handcut unit. In 2003, the density of target trees in all treatment units combined was 1,544 trees/ha (625 tree/ac) in wire zones and 1,594 trees/ha (645 trees/ac) in border zones. If the handcut unit was omitted from the calculations, then only 340 target trees/ha (138 trees/ac) in wire zones and 501 trees/ha (203 trees/ac) in border zones were present. IVM of a ROW is not a "tree-proof" but rather a "tree-resistant" means of reducing tree invasion. Competition with existing plants and wildlife predation on tree seeds on a ROW managed via the wire­border zone method minimized but did not eliminate tree invasion. Since 1987, IVM and the wire­border zone method of ROW maintenance has increased the time between treatment cycles, thereby reducing labor and chemical costs at the SGL 33 Research and Demonstration Area.

Keywords: Cover types; herbicides; integrated vegetation management; rights-of-way; tree control; vegetation.

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