Sabal Trail planting exotic invasive grasses

Landowners can ask for something else.

Right now in Mitchell and Colquitt County, Georgia, Troy Construction is heading south, covering up the pipe they planted with seed, which according to Sabal Trail’s documents is bermuda grass and bahia grass, both of which are exotic invasive species in Georgia. According to Sabal Trail’s documents, “Alternative seed mixes specifically requested by the landowner or required by agencies may be used.”

Now I’m told by at least one Georgia agency that both those grasses can be killed off with Roundup if they spread. But is that really what we want in and near our waterways and wetlands? And why should neighboring landowners have to fight exotic invasive species brought in by an invading pipeline?

So if you’re a landowner or you know a land management agency, you may want to request different seeds.

How you do that is something of a question, because I haven’t see a contact telephone number on any of the numerous signs Sabal Trail has posted at construction locations.

However, the contact that used to be posted on the door of the (now closed) Valdosta Sabal Trail office was Andrea Grover, and Spectra Energy lists her as: 1.888.215.6683, adgrover@spectraenergy.com

The person who’s signed the construction go-ahead letters from FERC is John Peconom, 202-502-6352, john.peconom@ferc.gov.

North from Mitchell County you’ll find TRW, while Troy Construction goes south, and Price Gregory is in some spreads. See this news story from last spring: Pipeline News, March 2016, Sabal Trail Pipeline lands contractors,

Sabal Trail Transmission LLC has awarded contracts for its 513-mile Sabal Trail pipeline that will transport natural gas from mid-Alabama through Georgia and into central Florida in Marion County. Price Gregory has been awarded contracts for spreads one, four and five; MPG P/L has been awarded a contract for spread two; Troy Construction has been awarded a contract for spread three; and Rockford Corp. has been awarded contracts for spreads six and seven.

For where those spreads are, see Sabal Trail’s spread maps (online courtesy of Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE). In WWALS territory, it’s Spread 3 in south Georgia (TRW) and Spread 4 in north Florida (Price Gregory). The contractor shouldn’t matter as far as what they’re distributing, because it’s Sabal Trail that made up the seed lists.

And don’t be diverted if you see the name GALYEAN on the side of equipment. That’s GALYEAN EQUIPMENT CO., the manufacturer, not the operator.

As to what they are planting and how that can be varied, see the sentence I’ve emphasised in this quote from page 13 of Section 3.1.1 of USACE Section 404-Section 10 Application Volume I (All Districts):

Revegetation will be completed in accordance with permit requirements and written recommendations on seeding mixes, rates, and dates obtained from the local soil conservation authority or other duly authorized agency and in accordance with the Project E&SCP. The ROW will be seeded within six working days following final grading, weather and soil conditions permitting. Alternative seed mixes specifically requested by the landowner or required by agencies may be used. Any soil disturbance that occurs outside the permanent seeding season or any bare soil left unstabilized by vegetation will be mulched in accordance with the FERC Plan and the Project E&SCP.”

According to Sabal Trail’s Resource Report 1, E&SCP is “Erosion and Sediment Control Plan”.

That RR1 also says, Page 3-13, Construction Techniques, E&SCP Revision 4 11 -14-14, and I’ve emphasized one phrase and a sentence:

3.6.2 Revegetation and Seeding

Successful revegetation of soils disturbed by Project-related activities is essential. Seeding will be conducted using the following requirements:

  1. Fertilize and add soil pH modifiers in accordance with the recommendations in Appendix B. Incorporate recommended soil pH modifier and fertilizer into the top two inches of soil as soon as practical after application;
  2. Seed all disturbed areas within six working days of final grading, weather and soil conditions permitting;
  3. Prepare seedbed in disturbed areas to a depth of three to four inches to provide a firm seedbed. When hydroseeding, scarify the seedbed to facilitate lodging and germination of seed;
  4. Seed disturbed areas in accordance with the seed mixes, rates, and dates in Appendix B, except in upland areas where landowners or a land management agency may request alternative seed mixes. Seeding is not required in cultivated croplands unless requested by the landowner.
  5. Perform seeding of permanent vegetation within the recommended seeding dates as outlined in Appendix B. If seeding cannot be done with in those dates, use appropriate temporary erosion control measures and perform seeding of permanent vegetation at the beginning of the next recommended seeding season. Dormant seeding or temporary seeding of annual species may also be used, if necessary, to establish cover, as approved by the EI. Mulch in accordance with Section 3.7.3. Lawns may be seeded on a schedule established with the landowner;
  6. Base seeding rates on Pure Live Seed (“PLS”). Use seed within 12 months of seed testing;
  7. Treat legume seed with an inoculant specific to the species using the manufacturer’s recommended rate of inoculant appropriate for the seeding method (broadcast, drill, or hydroseeding); and
  8. Uniformly apply and cover seed in accordance with Appendix B. In the absence of any recommendations from the local Natural Resource Conservation Service offices, landowner, or land managing agency to the contrary. A seed drill equipped with a cultipacker is preferred for application, but broadcast or hydroseeding can be used at double the recommended seeding rates. Where seed is broad cast, firm the seedbed with a cultipacker or roller after seeding. In rocky soils, or where site conditions may limit the effectiveness of this equipment, other alternatives may be appropriate (e.g., use of a chain drag) to lightly cover seed after application, as approved by the EIs.

The subsections following the above are about pre-mulching and about winter con ditions.

RR1 Appendix B has separate recommendations for each state. For Georgia, the “Seed Mix Recommendations” are Bermuda grass and Bahia grass, both of which are exotic invasive species in Georgia. For Florida, the mixes are more complicated, but also involve Bahia and Bermuda grasses.

As the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health says about Bahiagrass, Paspalum notatum,

Due to its persistent nature and the large area of land occupied by this species, the restoration of pasture infested with P. notatum has become a major land management challenge.

So do we really want more of this problem spread for hundreds of miles, especially through wetlands and waterways?

-jsq

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1 thought on “Sabal Trail planting exotic invasive grasses

  1. Janet Barrow

    See my Comments on Environmental Condition 14 – Pollinator Plants, which I filed back in early August. I also sent a letter to EPA. Make Sabal Trail do proper restoration in conjunction with landowner and land manager needs. Not only do we need pollinator plants, but we do not need invasive species. Cogon grass is spread by power line maintenance crews (and road maintenance crews), and it invades linear corridors. The areas that have been “restored” following the pipeline construction along Hwy 19 for Florida Gas Transmission are full of invasive species. They do not do a good job of restoration.
    Accession Number: 20160804-5123
    Description: Require Compliance with Environmental Condition 14 for all segments of Southeast Market Pipelines under CP14-554, et al.

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