3/22/1999

AEP, Division of Natural Resources
Team to Create Wildlife Habitats
Under Transmission Lines

CHARLESTON, March 12, 1999 — AEP and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources have entered into a partnership to encourage private property owners to develop wildlife habitats in transmission line rights-of-way on their lands, according to AEP Forestry Manager Lynn Grayson.

Under the new Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Program, AEP will designate up to $50,000 in the state to pay private property owners to maintain their transmission line rights-of-way in a manner that will support and enhance wildlife diversity, Grayson said.

Because AEP must manage tall plant growth within its easements to provide safe and reliable service to customers, the company maintains its rights-of-way on a regular schedule anyway, Grayson said. Many of those rights-of-way already provide good wildlife food and cover because crews selectively cut tall-growing trees and leave small shrubs, herbaceous growth and grasses. But with some additional effort by property owners, those rights-of-way can be enhanced to provide even better food, cover, nesting and brooding areas, travel corridor and edge, he said.

Paul Johansen, assistant chief of wildlife resources for the DNR, said he expects the program to be popular with landowners.

“I think there will be a great deal of interest,” he said. “The type of habitat we’ll be creating is ideal brood range for turkeys and grouse, not to mention browse range for deer.”

Under the new program, AEP has developed a cost-sharing plan for property owners willing to enhance wildlife habitat under power lines crossing their property. The company will provide 80 percent of the cost to improve wildlife habitat, to a maximum of $300 per acre. AEP will also provide an additional $100 per acre to property owners who maintain the enhanced right-of-way for at least two years. Each participating land owner can receive a maximum of $2,000.

The Wildlife Resources Section of the Division of Natural Resources will provide technical expertise to property owners on how best to develop their land, Grayson said. State employees will visit the property and determine what wildlife species it is best suited to support, he said. Then they will provide specific recommendations for habitat development. Recommendations could include selective clearing of tall growth, selective retention of small shrubs, grasses and herbaceous growth, and planting of new wildlife food and cover crops.

“DNR biologists and wildlife managers will meet with the landowners who show an interest in this program. We’ll offer the agency’s expertise in designing custom seed mixes, we’ll recommend appropriate shrub plantings, and we’ll provide designs for wildlife nest boxes,” Johansen said.

To qualify for the program, landowners must own property crossed by a transmission line, currently have tall-growth vegetation in the easement that needs to be controlled, and be able to devote all or a portion of that easement to wildlife habitat, Grayson said.

“AEP will definitely get a payback from the results of this program,” he said. “If property owners agree to maintain their rights-of-way, we would no longer have to provide the maintenance. And even though AEP would break even on the cost, everyone would benefit from the development of land for wildlife habitat.”

A similar agreement is being drafted with Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Grayson said.

AEP, a global energy company, is one of the United States’ largest investor-owned utilities, providing energy to 3 million customers in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. AEP has holdings in the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Australia. Wholly-owned subsidiaries provide power engineering, energy consulting and energy management services around the world. The company is based in Columbus, Ohio. On Dec. 22, 1997, AEP announced a definitive merger agreement for a tax-free, stock-for-stock transaction with Central and South West Corp., a public utility holding company based in Dallas.

For More Information, Contact:
Jeri Matheney
West Virginia
Corporate Communications Manager
304/348-5733

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