Natural Resource
Stewardship

140,000 Acres of PG&E-owned watershed land that will be permanently protected

PG&E maintains a long-standing commitment to managing land and waters in an environmentally responsible way. This includes protecting threatened and endangered species and their habitats during operations, managing watershed lands that PG&E has committed to preserving in perpetuity, maintaining forest lands to minimize the threat of wildfire, and managing vegetation and protecting birds along overhead power lines.

Our Approach

Minimizing Impacts of Our Operations

PG&E’s work to upgrade and maintain gas and electric facilities to meet customer needs can impact sensitive wildlife and other important natural resources. This requires us to take steps to avoid or minimize impacts to these resources when we perform operation and maintenance activities. Examples of our efforts to protect unique and sensitive habitats throughout California include:

  • (Photo by Andi Henke)
    Bay checkerspot butterflies enjoy their natural habitat at Tulare Hill in the San Jose area. PG&E, working closely with local partners, is helping to preserve this threatened butterfly.
    Safe Harbor Agreements. PG&E maintains Safe Harbor Agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for PG&E-owned land at two locations: Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge in Contra Costa County and Tulare Hill in Santa Clara County. Through these agreements, PG&E is working to protect species such as the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, Antioch Dunes evening primrose, Bay checkerspot butterfly and Metcalf Canyon jewelflower.
  • Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP). We continued to implement our San Joaquin Valley Operations and Maintenance HCP, which is a 30-year permit covering our operations and maintenance activities and minor new construction in the region. The HCP’s provisions cover 23 wildlife and 42 plant species and enable PG&E to maintain our operations in a way that protects these species and the habitats in which they thrive. We are also developing additional HCPs or other programmatic permit strategies for the remaining regions of our service area.

Protecting Birds

PG&E has an important responsibility to protect birds, both to comply with state and federal laws and to maintain electric service reliability. Our work is guided by PG&E’s Avian Protection Plan to protect migratory, threatened and endangered birds while improving system safety and electric reliability for customers. PG&E’s plan is one of the most comprehensive in the nation.

Sustainably Managing Lands and Watersheds

PG&E is committed to sustainably managing our 52,000 acres of forest lands. Key elements of our sustainable forestry efforts include maintaining lands in ways that help prevent the spread of wildfires, engaging nearby communities in wildfire prevention programs, and collecting and banking seeds from PG&E forest lands for future restoration purposes.

In addition, PG&E’s Land Conservation Commitment permanently protects 140,000 acres of PG&E-owned watershed lands across the Sierra and Cascade Mountain Ranges through the donation of conservation easements to qualified conservation organizations. Donees are identified by the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council, an independent non-profit organization. A portion of these watershed lands will be donated in fee to local and state organizations.

We also carry out a variety of land stewardship activities at our Diablo Canyon Power Plant.

Vegetation Management

Each year, PG&E’s Vegetation Management department inspects every mile of power line in our service area for public safety and electric reliability. The work is performed by a large team of consulting utility arborists and foresters and line clearance contractor crews. PG&E has been recognized by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Line USA recipient for 19 consecutive years for demonstrating best practices in utility arboriculture.

Our efforts are focused in three areas:

  • Public safety and reliability—reducing the risk of contact between vegetation and power lines, which can present risks to the community and is a leading cause of electric power outages.
  • Compliance—meeting requirements to keep the electric lines clear, such as the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Standard FAC-003-1, which applies to bulk transmission lines and is intended to prevent a large-scale transmission outage.
  • Public involvement—engaging with landowners and public agencies to resolve concerns and reach mutually agreeable solutions. This includes our “Right Tree, Right Place” outreach, which aims to educate the public on the proper selection of trees under or near power lines.

Reduces Fire Risk near Auburn with Grazing Goats

(Photo by Lynsey Paulo)

Four years after a devastating wildfire ripped through the Sierra foothills town of Auburn, destroying more than 60 homes and businesses, PG&E helped to reduce the fuel load around our electric and hydroelectric facilities, and the fire risk to the surrounding community. The program included the use of goats to reduce the dense brush and grasses.

2013 Milestones

PG&E’s stewardship commitment includes working to manage our hydroelectric facilities in a manner that restores and enhances habitat for fish and other wildlife. Examples of our efforts include the following:

  • Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project. In Tehama County near Mount Lassen, we continue to work with federal, state and regional agencies, conservation organizations and other groups to restore historic salmon runs along Battle Creek. This project is one of the country’s largest cold water fish restoration efforts. Between 2009 and 2019, we are removing five of the eight diversion dams in the area, and retrofitting the remaining three with fish screens and ladders to allow spawning fish to travel upstream through 48 miles of streams and habitat.
  • (Photo by James Green)
    Salmon in Butte Creek, where PG&E is working to enhance the fish’s habitat.
    Butte Creek. In Butte County, PG&E’s DeSabla-Centerville hydroelectric project provides a unique benefit to endangered Chinook salmon and steelhead. An 8-mile diversion canal brings colder water from the Feather River to Butte Creek, increasing spawning and holding habitat for these endangered fish. Additional efforts include work to improve water quality, install fish screens and remove barriers to fish migration.

PG&E also received “ Wildlife at Work” certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council for our efforts to restore native serpentine habitat and create a pollinator habitat at the site of our former Hunters Point Power Plant in San Francisco. The Wildlife Habitat Council is a nonprofit organization that works with corporations and community members to conserve and restore wildlife habitats on corporate lands. In total, PG&E has earned certification for five sites. One site also earned a Corporate Lands for Learning accreditation.

Land Stewardship at Diablo Canyon

PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Power Plant is located on one of the most scenic coastlines in the country. It is surrounded by roughly 12,000 acres of land that is managed by PG&E and largely maintained in a natural state as a home to many species of plant and animal wildlife that thrive on land, as well as in the ocean and intertidal zones.

PG&E’s stewardship of the property includes livestock grazing and other strategies to remove invasive plant species, which have resulted in a healthier rangeland habitat. PG&E also allows scientists and others to study the area’s habitat and ecology. The property also includes three scenic trails that are open to the public and is accredited as a Corporate Lands for Learning site through the Wildlife Habitat Council.

(Photo by John Lindsey)

Measuring Progress

PG&E carries out a range of restoration and habitat protection activities to fulfill state and federal regulatory requirements and to support voluntary environmental initiatives. Last year, our efforts protected or restored nearly 500 acres of habitat and about 6 miles of stream and river riparian vegetation.

Protected and Restored Habitat1
  2011 2012 2013
Acres set aside and protected 39.4 acres 0 acres 253.8 acres
Acres of restored habitat 292 acres 1,255.7 acres 236.5 acres
Miles of stream and river riparian vegetation protected 6.6 miles 23.6 miles 6.4 miles
1 PG&E undertook these activities to meet various regulatory requirements.

Protecting Birds

Since 2002, PG&E has made approximately 24,600 existing utility poles and towers bird-safe. In that time, we have also retrofitted approximately 28,200 utility poles in areas where bird injuries, fatalities or bird-related power outages have occurred. All new poles and replacement poles in our designated “Raptor Concentration Zone” are also built to be bird-safe.

Bird Protection Program (Bird-Safe Retrofits)
TIP: Click on the items in the chart legend to selectively remove or restore chart data.

PG&E’s Land Conservation Commitment

PG&E donated a 240-acre parcel known as Kennedy Meadows to the County of Tuolumne.

In 2013, PG&E transferred the 240-acre parcel known as Kennedy Meadows to the County of Tuolumne, marking our first land transfer as part of our Land Conservation Commitment. As part of the transaction, Mother Lode Land Trust accepted a conservation easement over the property, ensuring that habitat, outdoor recreation, forest resources and agricultural uses will be permanently protected.

At an elevation of about 6,500 feet, Kennedy Meadows provides important outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat. It is adjacent to the Stanislaus National Forest and provides a watershed for PG&E’s Spring Gap-Stanislaus hydroelectric project. Additionally, in 2013, the Stewardship Council recommended that PG&E donate 2,325 acres to public agencies, qualified conservation organizations or Native American tribes and also recommended donating conservation easements to local community organizations on a total of 4,796 acres.

The Foundation for Youth Investment manages youth-related grantmaking for the Stewardship Council. In 2013, the foundation invested $785,000 in 34 organizations serving diverse populations across California that connect young people to the outdoors.

Looking Ahead

As part of our environmental commitment, PG&E will continue efforts to avoid, minimize and mitigate the impacts of our operations on sensitive habitat and species. This includes making it a priority to work collaboratively with national, state and local stakeholders—and other utilities—to seek feedback and identify best practices as we strive to manage lands and waters in a responsible and environmentally sensitive way.

Power to the Pollinators

PG&E joined several other leading businesses to form a network called Business for Bees—American Business Collaboration for Pollinator Conservation Action (ABC/PCA). The new organization aims to create a network of businesses that “commit to taking action to foster the recovery and sustainment of pollinators and their habitat.” This includes bees, bats, birds, beetles and butterflies.

PG&E has been collaborating for the last couple of years on such initiatives with the Pollinator Partnership (P2), the largest organization in the world dedicated to pollinators. In particular, PG&E has been working with P2 and other stakeholders on innovative ways to manage vegetation along our electric transmission rights-of-way.

New pollinator habitat including sky lupine, California poppy and Gilia flowers growing under PG&E transmission lines in the American River Parkway.

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