Energy Sector Work

In partnership with the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association, we are helping Wisconsin’s rural electric cooperatives to establish native prairie habitat on open land surrounding electric infrastructure.

In 2017, Rock Energy Cooperative (REC) in southern Wisconsin asked us for guidance to create pollinator habitat at their electric substations. Land outside the fenceline on their substation properties required repeated mowing, or had become overgrown with invasive woody plants. After discussing options, REC hired Midwest Prairies LLC to clear the existing vegetation and seed a mix of native grass and wildflowers on about one acre at each of four substations. REC managed these sites to ensure proper establishment of the native vegetation.

Habitat WECS - REC
Native seed mix being drilled into former grass turf around substation.

The Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative (CWEC) approached Sand County Foundation for assistance in creating habitat on land surrounding its headquarters facility in Rosholt. We brought in regional expertise from Prairie Nursery, Inc. to develop a plan for CWEC to take a first step by restoring one acre of previously unmanaged grass and weeds. CWEC applied herbicide to this site and seeded it with a diverse native seed mix designed for monarch butterflies.

Habitat WECA - CWEC
Contractor spraying herbicide at CWEC headquarters, prior to fall seeding of monarch habitat native seed mix.

In 2016 we completed a five-year Pollinator and Monarch Habitat Plan for Exelon Corporation to implement at its 12 nuclear power stations in Illinois and northeastern states. The plan provides guidance for habitat restoration with staff and community engagement on the hundreds of acres of vacant company-owned land near the secured nuclear plant boundaries. Exelon has made monarch and pollinator habitat restoration a fleet-wide initiative and its employees and local partners have initiated hands-on restoration projects at most of their nuclear stations.

Sand County Foundation assisted the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency to create its Saving the Monarchs program, as profiled here by the American Public Power Association. In addition, we have published articles profiling the habitat restoration efforts of investor-owned utilities, electric cooperatives, researchers, and landowners in prominent energy sector publications including the Utility Arborist Association’s Newsline and Transmission & Distribution World.