In a video released today, Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, composed of Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas, announced an initiative to establish new habitats for butterflies, bees and other pollinator insects along the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Pollinators are essential to the production of many of the fruits and vegetables we eat daily. However, pollinator populations, particularly bees and butterflies, have sharply declined in recent years due to the loss of suitable habitat. The Pollinator Habitat Initiative will create hundreds of acres of new pollinator habitat by replanting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline right of way with native grasses and wildflowers that attract the species.
The project has identified 750 acres of suitable locations along roughly 50 miles of the proposed pipeline route, with the most suitable locations found in flatter areas in southern Virginia and eastern North Carolina. Dozens of native seed mixes have been developed for the program, including native grasses such as Little Bluestem and Beaked Panicum, and wildflowers such as Partridge Pea and Black-Eyed Susan. The program is voluntary and will be implemented with the approval and input of participating landowners.
“Utility corridors offer ideal habitats for all kinds of wildlife, but especially the pollinators that are so essential for food production,” said Pamela Faggert, Dominion Energy’s Chief Environmental Officer and Senior Vice President, Sustainability. “This initiative builds on the more than 43,000 acres of pollinator habitats Dominion Energy has created along our electric transmission and distribution rights of way. We’re excited to build on that progress and continue doing our part to improve our region’s natural environment.”
In developing the program, the project consulted with a number of wildlife experts, including Bob Glennon, a private lands biologist for Virginia Tech’s Conservation Management Institute. “By replanting the pipeline right of way with pollinator habitats, as opposed to mowed grasses, we’ll be creating hundreds of acres of new habitat for these species that we otherwise wouldn’t have,” said Glennon. “I couldn’t think of a more environmentally beneficial use of these spaces, and I’m very proud to be a part of it.”
One of the participating landowners is Ward Burton, founder and president of the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation. Two of the Foundation’s parcels are crossed by the pipeline in southern Virginia and have been selected for the initiative. “As a lifelong conservationist, I couldn’t be more excited to participate in this program,” said Burton. “Not only will it be beneficial for the pollinators, but it’s also going to create new habitats for other wildlife like quail, turkey and songbirds. I see this as a really creative way to not just restore the right of way, but actually enhance its environmental value beyond what it was when we started.”
For more information about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Pollinator Habitat Initiative, please visit https://atlanticcoastpipeline.com/pollinator.aspx.