FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
21st August 2023
Contact: Katie Fernholz, firstname.lastname@example.org, (612) 333-0430
Right-of-Way Stewardship Council Launches Standards Review Process
Multi-Disciplinary Technical Advisory Committee to Guide a 12-month Process
(Mpls, MN) - The Right-of-Way Stewardship Council (ROWSC) announces the launch of a 12-month process to review the ROW Steward Technical Requirements for Accreditation. A six-member multi-disciplinary Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) will guide the process. Following initial revisions guided by the TAC and review by the full ROWSC, there will be an opportunity for stakeholders, interested parties, and the public to provide comments.
The ROWSC established management standards based on ten principles, 30 criteria, and 51 indicators containing a total of 206 verifiers that codify integrated vegetation management (IVM), emphasizing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. The ten principles address compliance with laws, standards, and best management practices (BMPs); tenure and use rights and responsibilities; community relations; management planning; understanding pest and ecosystem dynamics; establishing tolerance levels; compilation of an array of vegetation maintenance techniques; accounting for economic and ecological effects of treatments; site-specific implementation of treatments; and monitoring and adaptive management.
The current Accreditation Standards for Assessing IVM Excellence were last updated in 2016. These standards establish the technical requirements for applicants seeking ROW Steward accreditation of IVM practices on electric transmission and pipeline rights-of-way. Accreditation standards were developed with the direct participation of the electric transmission, natural gas, and liquid petroleum pipeline industries with input provided from subject matter experts, and a diverse group of stakeholders including environmental non-governmental organizations, academia, and the public. Accreditation standards are used in an independent audit of an applicant’s IVM program, and they are intended to assist with benchmarking, identifying best practices, and to promote continuous improvement of IVM programming.
Over the next 12-months, the ROWSC will complete a process to revise the standards by incorporating recent experience and insight of ROWSC auditors, accredited utilities, and external stakeholders including utility vegetation management practitioners, consulting utility partners, researchers, regulators, and additional interested parties.
“There are four objectives of our standards review process,” said John Steelman, co-chair of the Right-of-Way Stewardship Council and chair of the TAC. “We will develop recommendations to streamline administrative processes to reduce redundancy in the standard, align with recent science and IVM trends, align with new regulations and standards, and to include emerging issues such as updates to environmental and social contracts.”
Members of the TAC include representatives from diverse interests and experiences related to ROW vegetation management and IVM. The six members of the TAC are:
John Steelman, Grow With Trees
John Goodfellow, BioCompliance Consulting, Inc.
Randy Miller, CNUC
Rich Hendler, ACRT
Phil Chen, Overstory
Kieran Hunt, Asplundh Tree Expert, LLC
Tom Sullivan of TES Forester and Arborist, Phil Charlton of Charlton & Associates, and Pam Money of NRM-VMS serve as advisors to the TAC.
The TAC will develop draft recommendations for standards revisions that will provide the basis for a 30-day public consultation period. Following input from external stakeholders, the TAC will prepare final revision recommendations in a final draft of the technical standards for approval by the full ROW Stewardship Council. The revised standard is anticipated to be finalized by mid-2024 and made publicly available on the ROWSC website. Existing ROWSC Accredited Utilities will have 12 months to come into compliance with the revised standards. All new applications for Accreditation after January 1, 2024, will have the option of pursuing accreditation under the proposed revised standard. All applications after July 1, 2024, are expected to pursue the revised standard. These proposed timelines are subject to change by the ROW Stewardship Council. Special thanks to CN Utility Consulting (CNUC) for being the first sponsor of this project and supporting the continued success of the ROWSC.
For more information, visit: http://www.rowstewardship.org
About Right-of-Way Stewardship Council
Right-of-Way Stewardship Council is an accreditation program led by a diverse group of stakeholders including industry, government, academia, and environmental NGOs, in order to provide standards of excellence for environmental stewardship along rights-of-way (ROW) and presents the opportunity for utility companies to demonstrate their commitment to such standards. It establishes standards for responsible ROW vegetation management within high-voltage electric transmission corridors. The aim of the program is to promote the application of integrated vegetation management and best management practices to the utility vegetation management industry in order to maintain power system reliability and address ecological concerns.