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What’s Current

ATC, Melinda Myers and Milwaukee County Zoo team up to help pollinators

Plants and flowers that help birds, butterflies and bees are growing strong at the Milwaukee County Zoo. That’s because kids and families worked with gardening expert and horticulturist Melinda Myers to plant pollinator-friendly vegetation at Party for the Planet in May.

The planting happened at the ATC Pollinator Garden, which was established on the zoo grounds in 2015.

Helping pollinators is part of ATC’s Grow Smart program, which helps property owners and communities identify low-growing, beautiful, compatible vegetation that can be planted the smart way – a safe distance from transmission line rights-of-way.

ATC works with its construction contractors to plant seed mixes in its rights-of-way that generate vegetation beneficial to many species of pollinators.

ATC continues funding through the Community Planting Program for planting projects

New this year, communities can apply for pollinator-specific projects

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. will begin accepting applications on June 1 for its Community Planting Program, which provides financial support to eligible cities, villages, towns, counties and tribes in ATC’s service area for planting projects on public property.

Now in its fifth year, the program helps communities where ATC transmission facilities exist. Since its inception, ATC has awarded nearly $240,000 to more than 150 eligible municipalities and counties.

To qualify, communities must commit that all current and future planting plans and urban forestry activities near high-voltage electric transmission lines will comply with ATC’s maintenance standards.

Recipients can use the program funding to plant trees and other tall-growing vegetation outside the transmission line rights-of-way. New to the program in 2017 is a pollinator-specific planting component. Funding also will be considered for communities who commit to planting low-growing, compatible vegetation such as those suggested on ATC’s Grow Smart pollinator guide. The pollinator-attracting vegetation can be a seed mix, plants, plugs or a combination thereof.

“Applying for funding through the Community Planting Program gives communities across our service area an opportunity to beautify their public space,” said ATC’s Chief Operating Office, Mark Davis. “It’s important to plant trees and tall-growing vegetation outside the right-of-way. Since we also know that pollinators are in decline due to loss of habitat, this program now offers a great opportunity to restore that habitat by planting low-growing species that attracts pollinators.”

ATC will accept applications through Sept. 30, and award recipients will be selected and notified by the end of the year. ATC will accept one application per community, and the awards range from $100 to $5,000.

The Community Planting Program is part of the Grow Smart initiative, which is directed toward individual landowners and advocates planting low-growing, compatible vegetation in transmission line rights-of-way. Additional information about ATC’s own pollinator planting initiatives, the Community Planting Program application and eligibility criteria are available on ATC’s Grow Smart website at atc-GrowSmart.com.

ATC, Bucks plant 20 trees in McGovern Park

McGovern Park in Milwaukee is now home to 20 new trees, thanks to a partnership between American Transmission Co. and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Volunteers from ATC and the Bucks planted the trees on Wednesday, May 24 as part of the Trees for Threes partnership. Through this initiative, ATC is donating 355 trees to Wisconsin communities. ATC committed to planting one new tree for each three-point shot the Bucks made at the BMO Harris Bradley Center this season.

Milwaukee Bucks president, Peter Feigin, was on site to address the crowd of volunteers and media, along with Milwaukee County Executive, Chris Abele and ATC’s Vice President of External Affairs, Tom Finco.

The 20 trees planted at McGovern Park were transplanted from land that ATC owns in southeast Wisconsin, which will be the site of a future substation for the Spring Valley North Lake Geneva Project.

ATC and the Bucks are identifying Wisconsin community partners and schools 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.

 

Notes from the Field (Trips)

Editor’s note: The field trip. A time to get out, learn and explore. The tradition of the outdoor “classroom” is a great way for children and adults to get closer to nature.

This special “field trip” installment features photos and observations from Michael Warwick, ATC senior environmental project manager and a volunteer nature guide specializing in the creepy, crawly, hopping and soaring creatures of the Upper Midwest.

When Michael isn’t busy leaving no log unturned (literally) in his search for snakes and such, he works with our contractors to ensure that we demonstrate our environmental commitment.

I led two Searching for Salamanders field trips this April, one hosted by the Natural Resources Foundation and one for ATC’s employee Green Team. While short on salamanders, there was plenty still to see, including turtles, frogs and snakes.

Finding salamanders is greatly weather-dependent. The land-dwelling species found locally typically migrate from their overwintering habitat in the woods to the closest pond to lay their eggs during the first warm rain of the season.

Central newts in their aquatic adult phase were plentiful and just getting ready to lay their eggs.

Due to early spring weather this year, most adult salamanders were likely already in their summer burrows, not to be seen again until next spring. A few blue-spotted sallies were still hanging around in low numbers. Central newts in their aquatic adult phase were plentiful and just getting ready to lay their eggs.

Trip-goers were lucky to observe numerous Blanding’s turtles, a species of special concern in Wisconsin. The Blanding’s turtle’s bright yellow throat makes it unmistakable amongst Wisconsin’s native turtle species.

Kids in the group loved getting hands-on with the critters we came across.

Trip-goers were lucky to observe numerous Blanding’s turtles, a species of special concern in Wisconsin. The Blanding’s turtle’s bright yellow throat makes it unmistakable amongst Wisconsin’s native turtle species.

Michael Warwick is a senior environmental project manager at ATC. Prior to joining ATC he worked as an environmental consultant conducting tree and plant surveys, wetland delineation, GIS, project planning, community planning and permitting. He previously worked at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with a focus on waterway monitoring and studies, and wetland and waterway permit reviews.

Michael earned a Bachelor of Science degree in conservation and environmental sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is certified by Wisconsin DNR as an Endangered Resources Reviewer and is a member of the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee (APLIC) Outreach Committee. He volunteers his time guiding annual natural resources-based educational field trips for the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.

 

New fleet of electric vehicles keeps ATC running green

American Transmission Co. employees are traveling green.

ATC purchased five Chevrolet Volts in the summer of 2016 as part of a grassroots effort by employees to find a more environmentally friendly option for company travel.

Called rEVs, the vehicles save fuel, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce costs. ATC provides charging stations at its offices for use by both the rEV fleet and employees’ personal electric vehicles.

Watch how it all started:

Join us at Party for the Planet May 20 – 21 in partnership with horticulturist and gardening expert Melinda Myers to learn how we can all rEV it Up and help pollinators!

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