The energy that keeps our lights on traverses the landscape along powerlines, railroad tracks, and pipelines through thin strips of land known as rights-of-way. This web of infrastructure, which accounts for millions of acres across the United States, is often perceived as detrimental to habitats and the visual aesthetic of a landscape. However, utilities, transportation agencies, railroads, and other rights-of-way managers are finding that the lands they manage can be assets to the ecosystem and support habitat for species like pollinators.
In 2015, the Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group (ROW) formed through the University of Illinois Energy Resources Center as a way for diverse stakeholders to collaborate, share, and identify best management practices for habitat conservation on working landscapes.
An important achievement of this collaboration is the recently released Pollinator Scorecard—a tool for ROW managers to assess and monitor pollinator habitat. The Scorecard is designed to create a common language around pollinator habitat, consistently evaluate habitat on ROW, and help ROW managers understand which management practices are most effective. The Scorecard can also help ROW managers communicate the habitat value that ROW land can provide to industry and the public.