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Great Lakes Energy is committed to providing safe and reliable electric service for cooperative members. The Vegetation Management Department routinely clears vegetation that could interfere with this service away from power line rights-of-way.

Herbicide treatment is one method GLE uses to control tall-growing brush in rights-of-way. GLE only uses forestry herbicides that have been deemed safe, effective, and environmentally-sound when applied in accordance with their labels.


  • COST REDUCTION: Reducing the amount of mechanical ground work that needs to be performed between tree-trimming cycles helps cut the co-op’s operating costs.
  • REDUCED OUTAGES: Preventing brush from reaching power lines before the next scheduled mechanical re-clear helps reduce outages.
  • REDUCED OUTAGE TIME: Eliminating thick, dense brush from around power lines helps lineworkers more quickly locate and repair damaged lines and equipment during storms.
  • INCREASED SAFETY: Clearing tall-growing vegetation out of rights-of-way not only makes it safer for lineworkers to restore power during adverse conditions, but also provides a safer environment for property owners.
  • REDUCED STEM DENSITIES: Using herbicides reduces stem densities in treated areas and promotes the growth of low-growing species that do not interfere with electric lines.
  • ENHANCED WILDLIFE HABITATS: Promoting the growth of low vegetation provides dense cover and food for many wildlife species. As a result, GLE’s herbicide program is endorsed by the National Wild Turkey Federation.
  • REDUCED ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT: Overall, using herbicides has less impact on the environment than mechanical re-clearing methods. Less oil, gas, hydraulic spills, erosion from equipment, etc. are introduced into the environment.

Notification Process

GLE’s herbicide contractor directly notifies each property owner before any work is completed on a particular property. The contractor will not treat the property unless the owner gives permission to do so. This direct contact gives the property owner the opportunity to ask an experienced, certified applicator questions. This process exceeds Michigan’s legal notification requirement.

Treatment Method

A low-volume, foliar application method of herbicide treatment is used. Applicators use backpack sprayers to selectively treat targeted species, thus reducing damage to non-targeted species. The product is mixed with a dye to give the applicator a visual aid as to what has been sprayed.

A spreader/sticker is also added to the herbicide mix to help the herbicide bond to the leaf. This significantly reduces the risk of runoff, of herbicide getting into the soil, and of transference through contact with treated plants.

The herbicide mix contains over 94% water which produces a very low concentration of actual herbicide. It’s designed to effectively kill plants by utilizing biochemical pathways that are specific only to plants. Humans or animals do not have the same pathways.

Treatments typically occur during the summer growing season and conclude by October 1. Tall-growing, woody species are treated with the herbicide. Once treated, leaves will start to yellow within 2-3 weeks from the initial application. Within a month, the plant is completely dead. Conifers are not targeted.

GLE’s contactor must follow several strict laws pertaining to herbicide application, and applicators must be certified and licensed by the State of Michigan.