A new pollinator tracking resource can help electric cooperatives be proactive in conserving habitat of imperiled bees and butterflies as federal listings of several species in addition to the iconic monarch butterfly are waiting in the wings.
The Pollinator Scorecard allows co-ops to evaluate their landscape and rights of way for habitat quality and compatibility with vegetation management and other operational activities, said Stephanie Crawford, NRECA senior regulatory issues manager.
“Co-ops want to be efficient in how they manage their rights of way, especially across large acres of landscape,” she said. “With help from this scorecard, co-ops can take a consistent and strategic systemwide approach to establishing habitat ahead of any potential requirements under the Endangered Species Act.”
The Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group at the University of Illinois-Chicago crafted the scorecard, a user’s guide and management module spreadsheets for the electricity and transportation sector.
NRECA has been active in this working group to ensure cooperative interests are well-represented. An Aug.13 webinar will provide step-by-step instructions on using the scorecard along with other considerations and recommendations.
For co-ops along the south-north migration path of the monarch butterfly, the new tool is especially timely as a preliminary listing decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is slated for December 2020.
The scorecard can be used in conjunction with the soon-to-be-finalized monarch butterfly candidate conservation agreement with assurances (CCAA).
“While the scorecard is completely voluntary, we believe it can serve as a useful and complementary resource,” Crawford said.
“This resource is also structured and tiered for tracking and monitoring habitat quality of several pollinators that are on the agency’s radar.”
The USFWS is considering protection for other pollinators with multistate ranges, including the western bumblebee, the yellow-banded bumblebee, the regal fritillary butterfly and the frosted elfin butterfly.