With the help of 20 Memphis Business Academy students and Clean Memphis organizers, Memphis Light, Gas and Water
is replanting a power line right of way with wildflowers and native grasses as its first linear meadow.
Electric transmission lines crisscross Memphis and Shelby County, many of which sit above grassy right of way areas that must be maintained.
But instead of mowing these fields of green throughout the growing season it is instead being reverted back to the natural habitat that existed before the lines came through.
The high school students set out 200 seedlings of several wildflower species Thursday
morning in the more visible area of MLGW’s linear meadow in John F. Kennedy Park, 4577 Raleigh-LaGrange Rd. Last week, workers using a seed drill planted the area with wildflower and native grass seeds.
There could be a long-term economic savings in that less cost will be required to maintain the right of way.
“This will not only lower our maintenance expenses, but it will also enhance the natural environment,” said MLGW’s Commercial and Industrial Customer Care manager Bill Bullock.
It likely will take two summers before the meadow is fully established.
In all, students and workers will be transforming about 13 acres – or 5,500 linear feet – into a field with such plants as black-eyed Susans, coneflowers and milkweed. The native grasses and wildflowers provide food and habitat for birds, bees and butterflies. The meadow also will better filter any runoff into the nearby Wolf River. And in Memphis, where the drinking water is pumped out of the underground aquifer, MLGW believes protecting the river has a long-term benefit for the utility.
Sitting near what will become part of the Wolf River Greenway that will run 22 miles through the city of Memphis, the right of way on both sides of the lines will be replanted with native species of grasses and wildflowers.