This project aims to determine i) the persistence of herbicides in northern plant species and northern soils, ii) the protective herbicide concentration in Yukon power line right-of-ways (ROWs) using northern species and northern soils and iii) alternative vegetation management strategies employing ecological manipulations of vegetation communities both with and without herbicides.
In the summer of 2013 Yukon Energy Corporation began exploring the potential to use herbicides as a way to manage vegetation on power line right-of-ways (ROWs) in Yukon, Canada. Although, initial trials indicated that short-term vegetation control could be achieved with the use of herbicides many questions and concerns remain regarding the application, fate and toxicity of herbicides in a northern environment. Herbicide effectiveness and persistence have been extensively studied in more temperate climates; however, few studies have examined the impact of herbicides in cold regions and further studies are required. The Yukon Research Centre has partnered with Yukon Energy Corporation and EDI Environmental Dynamics Inc. to address this knowledge gap.
No single method is the most effective method under all site conditions likely due to the response of different vegetation types and differences in environmental and soil conditions. Alternative vegetation management strategies, including ecological manipulations, may provide long-term cost-effective management. Creation of ROW habitats that are dominated by species that meet vegetation management objectives (i.e. slow and low growing species) requires an examination of disturbance regimes that foster environmental conditions favouring these species. Selective removal of non-desired species and the introduction of desired species (i.e. seeding/planting) can create conditions that promote either successionally stagnant or stable plant community assemblages that will be maintained over the long-term. Therefore, the use of integrated vegetation management approaches that are based upon an understanding of how vegetation and soil communities respond to physical and chemical disturbance in northern boreal ecosystems can provide a means to improve management success, while reducing cost and environmental risk.
At the conclusion of this project, we will have identified best management practices for an integrated vegetation management approach that optimizes naturally occurring ecological processes in northern ROWs as a means of reducing long-term vegetation management costs and environmental risk in northern ROWs.
Project Coordinator: Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College
Collaborators: Dr. Steven Siciliano, Professor, Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan, and Dr. Katherine Stewart, Professor, Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan
Isbister, Krystal., Stewart, Katherine. Vegetation community change on powerline right-of-ways technical report prepared for Yukon energy corporation. Yukon Research Centre/ University of Saskatchewan, November 2014, p. 9.