American Transmission Co.

Helping to keep the lights on, businesses running and communities strong®

Blog | American Transmission Co. - Part 5

ATC helps three communities replace trees lost to emerald ash borer

Three Wisconsin communities replaced trees lost to emerald ash borer and improved their urban tree diversity this year, thanks to grants from American Transmission Co.’s Community Planting Program.

Emerald ash borer is an invasive, wood-boring beetle that kills ash trees by eating the tissues under the bark. Native to northeastern Asia, it was first detected in the U.S. in 2002 and in Wisconsin in 2008. Since then, EAB has been reported in 85% of Wisconsin’s 72 counties (as of September 2021).

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, EAB generally kills ash trees in urban areas and along roadsides in infested areas, costing municipal governments millions of dollars for tree removal and replacement. The financial impact of EAB in Wisconsin forests is unknown but is believed to be substantial.

While the insect spreads slowly on its own, EAB impacts are greatly accelerated when people unintentionally move it in firewood and nursery stock.

Fond du Lac (Fond du Lac County)

The city of Fond du Lac recently planted several trees in Lakeside Park West to replace those lost to EAB, which is killing all the untreated ash trees in the city. The trees were planted near Supple Marsh, along Howard Litscher Drive to provide shade and natural beauty for park visitors.

These additional trees—a mix of Jefferson elm, redpointe maple, bald cypress, tamarack and tuliptree—will create more fall color interest, increase food and cover for wildlife, and attract butterflies, songbirds, and birds of prey. Lakeside Park borders Fond du Lac River and Lake Winnebago, one of the largest inland lakes in the U.S. As the trees grow, the city hopes they will be roosting sites for eagles and hawks, increasing bird viewing opportunities for park users. Fond du Lac is a recognized Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Manitowoc (Manitowoc County)

The city of Manitowoc planted several trees in Red Arrow Park, located on the shore of Lake Michigan. The park offers many recreational amenities, such as a handicap-accessible lakefront and beach walkway. Approximately 7.23 acres of the nearly 20 acres of park is a conservancy area consisting of a narrow strip of land running south approximately 2,800 feet along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

This spring, the city removed 22 ash trees impacted by EAB. The grant from ATC is helping to replace some of those trees with a more diverse tree canopy of oak, elm, hackberry, birch, and white cedar trees. Manitowoc is a recognized Tree City USA.

Menasha (Winnebago County)

In the city of Menasha, EAB is destroying canopy cover in the same neighborhoods that lost the majority of their trees to Dutch elm disease. Partnering with an elementary school and the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh’s Fox Cities Campus, the city planted 30 new trees on Second Street between Manitowoc, De Pere and Appleton Streets.

Planting additional species trees that are less common to the area diversifies the urban forest and protect it from future diseases. Improving canopy cover also leads to energy savings, improved air and storm water quality, and increased home values to people living there. Menasha is a recognized Tree City USA, Menasha Utilities is a Tree Line USA, and UW–Oshkosh’s Fox Cities Campus is a designated Tree Campus USA.

ATC’s planting program

ATC’s Community Planting Program enables us to encourage and support communities to plant trees and vegetation that beautify the landscape in a way that doesn’t compromise the safety and reliability of the electric transmission system.

The program provides financial support to eligible cities, villages, towns, counties and tribes in ATC’s service area for planting projects on public property, outside transmission line rights-of-way. Program funds can be used to plant trees and other tall-growing vegetation. Since 2013, ATC has awarded approximately 240 communities and organizations with funds totaling more than $425,000.

ATC accepts applications from June 1 through Sept. 30, and award recipients are selected and notified by the end of the year. Awards range from $100 to $5,000. Additional information and program applications can be found at atc-GrowSmart.com.

Safety Days: We commit to safety with our partners 

Working closely with our partners to operate safely is essential to success at American Transmission Co. Safety Days is a day committed to each of our vegetation management contract partners to focus entirely on safety.  

 The events are held at locations chosen by our contract partners; one day for each of our three major vegetation management partners. More than 150 contract crew members and managers from Asplundh Tree Expert Company, Nelson Tree Service and Zielies participated in the 2021 Safety Days.  

 “There has been unwavering support for Safety Days at ATC from the top down,” said Michelle Stokes, manager of Vegetation Management and Transmission Line Maintenance “It’s a serious commitment on behalf of the company to take workers off the job for a day to concentrate on safety, and we have found it to be very valuable.” 

 According to Stokes, Safety Days foster great discussion among the attendees. The opportunity to get everyone dedicated to ATC’s vegetation management program together at once allows front-line workers to openly discuss safety issues in job-specific circumstances with co-workers and supervisors. 

 Each contract partner is asked to identify relevant topics to cover during these sessions. This year, the contract partners based their agendas on the ATC safety and human performance data metrics. Leading indicators in the way of good catches, near misses, all-stops were top of mind, along with chainsaw safety, equipment maintenance, tree climbing, and roping and rigging techniques. A few Nelson Tree crew members who went to California in fall 2020 shared tips for removing dead trees more safely. Crews are dealing with more dead ash trees with the outbreak of emerald ash borer, and it is not safe to climb dead trees.  

“With the ATC support and involvement, it really shows that the utility cares. We always have to make time to do some training in the field, but this day allows everyone to be together, and focus on some specific training,” said IBEW/ATC Vegetation Management Safety Liaison Brian Smith. 

 Smith was recognized during Safety Days for his significant contributions in fostering a safe work culture within ATC field operations. His coaching on safe work practices and communicating safe work expectations across the service area over the last four years has positively influenced ATC’s safety performance. ATC presented Smith with a letter of appreciation from Mike Rowe, ATC president and chief executive officer; Mark Davis, executive vice president and chief operating officer; Jared Winters, director of asset maintenance and commissioning; and Stokes.  Nelson Tree leadership also presented Smith with a glass plaque to recognize his contributions. 

 “Safety Days are one of the key components of our ATC vegetation management contractor safety program,” said Winters. “These training sessions provide our ATC vegetation management team with a fantastic opportunity to engage with our contractors, showing that we care about each person working safely, and that we are committed to each person going home everyday injury free.” 

 

ATC, Milwaukee Bucks ready for sixth season of Trees for Threes

American Transmission Co., with the defending NBA champions Milwaukee Bucks, have announced our sixth consecutive season of partnership for the Trees for Threes program, which is deeply rooted in care for the environment and cause for the community.

Here’s how it works: for every 3-point shot that the Bucks score at home during the 2021-2022 season, an eligible Wisconsin school can earn a tree. That 3-point score tracker starts its uptick at 6:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Oct. 19, with the Bucks’ first home game against the Brooklyn Nets at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.

“Our partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Trees for Threes program is a win for local schools and the environment,” said Gregory Levesque, ATC’s director of Corporate Communications, Policy and Strategy. “Trees for Threes is all about connecting students with educational opportunities that also help improve the environment. We’re proud to continue our relationship with the Bucks for the sixth consecutive season to plant more trees at Wisconsin schools.”

Last year ATC donated 549 trees to 191 schools across Wisconsin thanks to the Bucks making the most home game 3-point shots of any team in the Eastern Conference and the third-most in the NBA overall. All 191 schools received a video message from Bango, the Bucks’ mascot, and an infographic and activity sheets to share with their students. Throughout the course of this partnership, ATC has donated 2,330 trees to make Wisconsin communities and schools a greener place.

School administrators can register on our website at www.atcllc.com/treesforthrees

ATC supports urban forestry in Wisconsin

American Transmission Co. is helping to support urban forests in Wisconsin through our Community Planting Program grants.

Urban forests make up a significant amount of America’s tree canopy. Over 140 million acres of America’s forests are located in cities, towns and villages. These trees provide essential benefits for people and improve urban wildlife habitats.

Athens (Marathon County)

The village of Athens planted nearly 50 trees to create a natural trail causeway and reforest a section of open field in the popular Erbach Park, as well as added trees along a village street.

Erbach Park contains over seven miles of trails and the grant from ATC helped better define one trail that runs through a large grassy area without using signs. By reforesting a section of open field, the village also reduces the amount of lawn it has to mow. Trees were also planted along a village street to help separate an industrial area from a recreational area, provide shade and improve wildlife habitat.

The trees planted were a mix of lilac bushes, lilac trees, white pine, river birch, standard white birch, new edition elm, white swamp oak and flowering crabs.

Bayside (Milwaukee and Ozaukee Counties)

The village of Bayside, located in Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties, planted approximately 150 trees this summer with support from ATC. Through Bayside’s Adopt-A-Tree Program, village residents volunteer or agree to have a tree planted in the public right-of-way on their property. ATC’s Community Planting Program grant helped to offset the cost of the trees that enhance the village’s urban forest.

The village and each resident work to identify an agreed upon location for tree planting in the spring, after which village crews plant the tree, place a layer of mulch, provide initial care and maintenance. Beginning in the fall, the resident accepts care and maintenance responsibility for the tree. This has been a highly successful and well-received program that provides numerous benefits.

The trees planted were a mix of quaking aspen, triumph elm, Japanese lilac, Shumard oak, and dawn Redwood. Since 2015, the village has planted nearly 500 trees as part of this signature public-private partnership program.

Belleview (Brown County)

The village of Bellevue planted eight trees in its arboretum along 1.2 miles of the East River Trail, which connects five communities in the greater Green Bay area. The ATC grant supported the planting of a shingle oak, dawn redwood, Frontier elm, tamarack, eastern hemlock, magnolia, American hophornbeam and Ohio buckeye.

Once complete, the arboretum will include over 100 different tree varieties. Started in 2005, the arboretum contains approximately 180 trees. The completed arboretum will enhance the beauty, and serenity of the East River Trail, as well as serve as a community educational resource.

Madison (Dane County)

The city of Madison’s Community Development Authority Housing Operations Division partnered with the Urban Tree Alliance to plant nearly 50 trees on CDA properties in nine southwest Madison neighborhoods. The trees planted were a mix of hackberry, red bud, London plane, sugar maple, swamp white oak, Kentucky coffee trees, yellow wood, golden rain tree, Turkish filbert, and honey locust.

The CDA administers 742 housing units and 115 multi-family housing units at 40 locations in Madison for low-income families, people over the age of 50, and individuals with disabilities. The UTA is a Madison-based not-for-profit made up of arborists and advocates dedicated to the growth and preservation of a diversified urban forest canopy. Together the two organizations have planted approximately 130 trees on CDA properties since 2019.

ATC’s planting program

ATC’s Community Planting Program enables us to encourage and support communities to plant trees and vegetation that beautify the landscape in a way that doesn’t compromise the safety and reliability of the electric transmission system.

The program provides financial support to eligible cities, villages, towns, counties and tribes in ATC’s service area for planting projects on public property, outside transmission line rights-of-way. Program funds can be used to plant trees and other tall-growing vegetation. Since 2013, ATC has awarded approximately 240 communities and organizations with funds totaling more than $425,000.

ATC accepts applications from June 1 through Sept. 30, and award recipients are selected and notified by the end of the year. Awards range from $100 to $5,000. Additional information and program applications can be found at atc-GrowSmart.com.

ATC named to 2021 Fortune Best Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production list

Great Place to Work® and Fortune magazine have honored American Transmission Co. as one of the 2021 Best Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production™. This is the fourth consecutive year ATC was named to this prestigious list, and the sixth overall time, this year coming in at number 10 on the list. Earning a spot means that ATC is one of the best companies to work for in the country.

The Best Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production list is highly competitive. Great Place to Work, the global authority on workplace culture, developed the list using rigorous analytics and confidential employee feedback. Only Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies are considered for the list.

“The Best Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production have shown incredible care for their employees,” says Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. “In 2020 and beyond, these companies rewarded the hard and unrelenting work of their employees by creating a safe space for them to thrive in their careers and in their personal lives.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

We congratulate and thank our employees for putting us on the list and making ATC a great place to work.

See what our employees had to say about our awesome workplace culture.