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Grow Smart® project attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinators to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary

Seeding project takes place on May 9 in right-of-way alongside sanctuary                       

PEWAUKEE, WIS. – Phase two of American Transmission Co.’s Grow Smart® initiative to attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators in the right-of-way that borders Green Bay’s Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary property takes place on May 9. The right-of-way is located under and along high voltage transmission lines on the northern border of I-43; west of Danz Avenue. and east of Irwin Street.

The first phase of this pollinator project began in 2015, when ATC vegetation management contractors used vegetation mowers to control the invasive species, such as buckthorn, from approximately six acres of the right-of-way. The following year, herbicides were selectively applied to the remaining invasive species within that acreage. On May 9, ATC’s environmental contractor, Cardno, will use equipment to broadcast a pollinator seed mix over two and one-half acres of the right-of-way in an effort to establish pollinator habitat. Earlier this year, ATC established a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for this project. As part of the agreement, the USFWS will supply the seed mix for the project.

“ATC’s Grow Smart® program offers suggestions for low-growing, compatible vegetation to plant in the right-of-way,” explained Gregory Levesque, director of environmental and local relations. “As an electric utility, we are uniquely positioned to establish our rights-of-way as suitable habitat to help pollinator species that we know are in decline. This project is one of many that ATC is initiating to revitalize our rights-of-way, by adjusting our seed mixes to include low-growing vegetation that attracts pollinators – such as those we promote in our Grow Smart® program. We are committed to helping our environment and pleased to be partnering with the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for this project.”

“We applaud ATC for this effort,” said Wildlife Sanctuary Executive Director Mike Reed. “They removed buckthorn and other invasive species from the land and are now replacing it with much-needed vegetation for pollinators. It fits in with the educational mission of the Sanctuary and lets people know that they, too, can plant vegetation that is beneficial for wildlife.”

ATC representatives and the Sanctuary Director will monitor the project throughout the growing season to evaluate and measure results. “By next year at this time, the data should provide us with a comprehensive picture of what plantings work well for that particular area, and what could be improved,” stated Levesque. “We’ll continue to maintain the vegetation at this site through our vegetation management program and volunteer activities.”

Anyone who would like to learn more about planting for pollinators can visit ATC’s Grow Smart® website: A free pollinator planting guide is available for download at the site.

ATC commissions new technology, seed mixes to help pollinators

Bees, butterflies and birds will soon have more flowers, plants and vegetation to visit within American Transmission Co.’s service area.

That’s because ATC is working with its construction contractors to plant seed mixes in its rights-of-way that generate vegetation beneficial to many species of pollinators. Low-growing flowering plants, such as those that attract pollinators, can thrive within transmission line rights-of-way.

ATC has developed enhanced seed mixes to use in its rights-of-way that include plants that flower throughout the growing season. Longer flowering periods allow pollinators to benefit from nectar sources over a longer time span. Pollinators play an important role in contributing to our food security and healthy ecosystems by helping plants flower and reproduce.

ATC is using an innovative approach to identify which rights-of-way to distribute the enhanced seed mixes. ATC worked with an environmental contractor to develop a new geographic information system model to identify right-of-way segments where enhanced seed mixes could help better connect pollinators to their environments. It’s called the Pollinator Opportunities within Rights-of Way, or POWR, model.

“This technology allows us to determine where it makes the most sense to enhance areas for pollinators from a biological standpoint,” said Johanna Sievewright, senior environmental project manager.

So far, ATC has identified 210 priority segments where enhancing areas for pollinators could significantly benefit the local environment.

ATC also is collaborating with nature centers to distribute the enhanced seed mixes. ATC partnered with Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enhance two and a half acres of right-of-way adjacent to the sanctuary property. ATC also partnered with Mequon Nature Preserve to enhance five acres of right-of-way on its property.

The goal is to help a number of different species, with a focus on endangered species like the rusty patched bumble bee. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently added the rusty patched bumble bee, native to the Upper Midwest, to the federal endangered species list.

“It’s important for us to increase habitat to ensure some of these species, like the rusty patched bumble bee, can grow in numbers and hopefully be removed from the endangered species list in the future. We want to do the right thing because we care,” said Sievewright.

ATC’s new POWR model is already generating industry buzz for its innovative approach to environmental stewardship. Sievewright shared how ATC is using its new technology to improve ecosystems at the Electric Power Research Institute Pollinator Workshop in Washington, D.C. in April and the Energy Research Center’s Rights-Of-Way as Habitats Working Group meeting in May.

If you’re interested in attracting pollinators to your own garden, ATC has created the GrowSmart® Pollinator Guide in partnership with horticulturist and gardening expert Melinda Myers.

ATC recognized again as Top Workplace

We have positive energy at American Transmission Co., and it shows year after year when our employees have an opportunity to share their opinion about what it’s like to work here.

For the fifth year, ATC has been awarded a Top Workplaces honor by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“Receiving this honor again is a tribute to our employees, who are among the best in our industry,” said ATC President and CEO Mike Rowe. “Their responses put us on the list, and their spirit of collaboration and innovation is what makes ATC a place where people learn, grow and stay.”

The Top Workplaces lists are based solely on the results of an employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics, LLC, a leading research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement. The survey measured several aspects of workplace culture.

“The Top Workplaces award is not a popularity contest. And oftentimes, people assume it’s all about fancy perks and benefits.” says Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics. “But to be a Top Workplace, organizations must meet our strict standards for organizational health. And who better to ask about work life than the people who live the culture every day—the employees. Time and time again, our research has proven that what’s most important to them is a strong belief in where the organization is headed, how it’s going to get there, and the feeling that everyone is in it together.”

ATC is a great place to work because what we do matters. Plus, we get to work with smart, committed and caring people. That positive energy, along with great pay and benefits, is why employees want to learn, grow and stay here. It is an honor to be recognized by our employees for something we strive to provide every day, a great workplace.

ATC goes blue for autism awareness month

If you visit American Transmission Co.’s offices, you may notice a bluish tint to the outdoor fountains and blue lights in some areas. It’s all to show support for autism awareness month.

ATC is joining thousands of other organizations across 157 countries striving to bring awareness to autism spectrum disorder during the month of April. Other organizations that have participated include the Sydney Opera House in Australia, Niagara Falls in Canada, The Great Pyramids of Giza, The Freedom Tower in New York and Milwaukee’s U.S. Bank building.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. There is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges.

ATC is proud to help sponsor events geared toward supporting individuals with autism and their families. ATC is also proud to offer programs and support for employees who know or care for someone with autism.

Wisconsin communities score 355 trees through ATC, Bucks partnership

The Bucks welcomed American Transmission Co. to center court during its last regular season game Monday night.

American Transmission Co. is donating 355 trees to Wisconsin communities as part of a partnership called Trees for Threes with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Trees for Threes program sponsors the planting of a new tree in Wisconsin for each three-point shot the Bucks made at the BMO Harris Bradley Center this season. That total was 355 after the Bucks’ last regular season game Monday night.

The team far surpassed its three-point tally from last season, which was 220 three-pointers made at home.

ATC and the Bucks will identify Wisconsin schools and community partners to participate in the tree plantings. The Trees for Threes initiative aligns with ATC’s Grow Smart® program, which helps property owners and communities identify low-growing, compatible vegetation that can be planted the smart way – a safe distance from transmission line rights-of-way.

Check back for updates about tree plantings near you.

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