There are many ways to approach right of way clearing for utility, construction, and renewable energy projects, but not all of them are good for the land. Understanding sustainable approaches to right of way clearing helps protect not only the environment but also your brand’s reputation.
What Is Right of Way Clearing?
Power lines, gas lines, and temporary access roads often must pass through private property or public lands. An easement, or right of way, allows utility and construction companies to pass through to access equipment for maintenance, repairs, and upgrades. Depending on the agreement, the entity using the right of way may be responsible for maintaining it for ongoing use or restoring it after project completion.
Right of way clearing is the practice of removing vegetation to provide safe access, either on an ongoing or temporary basis. Clearing activities might include removing trees and shrubs, mowing, and spraying to keep the area clear for current or future access.
Whether it’s done to prevent power lines from coming into contact with trees and causing power outages or forest fires, or to allow trucks to move solar panels to a site for installation, right of way clearing is an important component of many site access solutions.
Impacts of Unsustainable Right of Way Clearing
Excessive cutting, clearcutting, or slash-and-burn approaches can lead to plant damage that impacts the ecosystem and disturbs wildlife. Mowing too short can also stress the roots of grass and other ground cover, ultimately leading to soil erosion and loss of plant life.
Depending on the herbicides used to control weeds and other unwanted plants, chemical contamination could pollute waterways. Careless spraying can also inadvertently cause damage to adjacent farmland or personal gardens.
The equipment used for right of way clearing can impact the surrounding environment. Gas-powered vehicles, mowers, chain saws, and other equipment consumes fossil fuel, emit exhaust, and increase the carbon footprint of the project.
Because the right of way may be on private property, these unsustainable methods can lead to larger complications such as lawsuits and fines.
How to Do Sustainable Right of Way Clearing
Taking steps to protect the environment during right of way clearing is not onerous. It’s just a matter of understanding and implementing more sustainable practices.
Sustainable Vegetation Removal
Being selective about the vegetation that is removed ensures the right plants are removed in the right places, leaving behind those that support the natural ecosystem. Forest mulching, rather than bulldozing, returns valuable nutrients to the soil and creates less disruption for wildlife.
Sustainable Product Selection
Using natural herbicides reduces the potential for chemical contamination of waterways and soil in the right of way.
Precision Herbicide Application
In addition to using natural herbicides, precision application methods minimize the amount being used to only as much as necessary. Setting up buffer zones also helps protect nearby plants that are important to landowners.
Sustainable Clearing Equipment
When possible, using electric vehicles and battery-powered equipment for clearing reduces emissions and air pollution. This type of equipment also tends to operate quieter than gas-powered machinery. Not all areas of terrain allow for this type of equipment due to the challenges with slope and machine availability.
Most right of way clearing must comply with federal and local regulations, often requiring the implementation of a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP). Closely following this plan is not only necessary for avoiding fines, but it will also help ensure the right steps are taken.
The Importance of Being Environmentally Considerate
Approaching right of way clearing with a sustainability mindset is not necessarily more costly—in fact, it may be less expensive—and it can have a positive impact in more ways than one. In addition to protecting the land, you’re also protecting the communities surrounding the right of way from water and air pollution. Taking a sustainable approach also helps boost your brand’s reputation, especially when you can demonstrate that you’re putting your environmental commitments into practice.
Right of Way Clearing with YAK ACCESS
YAK ACCESS provides sustainable right of way clearing services for utility and construction companies of all sizes. Whether you need ongoing maintenance of power lines or one-time access to a solar site, our team has the expertise, experience, and equipment to get it done efficiently and conscientiously.
Download our case study featuring BLUROC’s land clearing expertise about how YAK ACCESS implements innovative solutions to provide safe, sustainable site access.