Protecting endangered species and keeping the lights on
The third Friday in May is always National Endangered Species Day, an opportunity to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species, their habitats and what it takes to do so.
Currently, there are 12 endangered and 11 threatened species in Wisconsin and 3 endangered and 8 threatened species in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that fall under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Bald Eagles do not fall under the Federal Endangered Species Act, but are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Environmental protection in action
We take our environmental commitment very seriously. Before starting any construction project, ATC conducts environmental surveys to identify any threatened or endangered species. Then we work with environmental regulators to minimize any potential impacts to listed plants or animals. All of our efforts follow national and state guidelines and align with ATC’s Environmental Commitment Statement.
Here are just a few examples of conservation measures we’ve taken to protect threatened or endangered species during our construction work in our service area:
- The Eastern Massauga Rattlesnake is a state and federally listed endangered species generally found along rivers in wetland areas. With the approval from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, we installed nearly 30 miles of snake exclusion fencing across three construction projects, hundreds of plywood snake cover boards that help them regulate their body temperature and aid in their removal from the active construction area, and mat roads that provide a flat surface to help construction crews spot animals in the right-of-way. We also train construction crews on the proper protocol for reporting snake sightings to environmental monitors.
- The Higgins Eye Pearlymussel and Sheepnose mussel are 2 of the 5 endangered mussel species in Wisconsin. During one project, ATC environmental contractors searched the sandy bottom of the Wisconsin River edge to relocate the mussels away from the construction area.
- ATC coordinated with the Hiawatha National Forest to protect the endangered Hines’ Emerald Dragonfly and Houghton’s Goldenrod species by marking areas to avoid during a construction project with pennant flagging and bright orange safety fencing. ATC also relocated 200 Houghton’s Goldenrod plants near a substation to improve construction access and avoid further disturbing the plants.
- ATC scheduled construction of a transmission line over the Wisconsin River to lessen any impacts on the Bald Eagles that catch fish in the open water near a dam and perch in trees along the shoreline in winter. ATC used a helicopter air crane to shorten the construction schedule and avoid Bald Eagle roosting season. Additionally, a light-duty helicopter crew installed bird diverters on the transmission line to help birds see thin wires and adjust their flight paths to avoid contact with the electrical wires.