Thriving Native Plants Beautify and Enrich Orange and Rockland's Properties, Community Under New Biodiversity Program
Orange and Rockland Utilities Biodiversity Program provides the company with a new approach to the habitat management of its properties that targets ecologically fragile O&R locations for biodiversity enhancement.
O&R Senior Ecologist and wetlands scientist Casey M. Tompkins said, “O&R believes that we should be consistently involved as an industry leader in the protection and enhancement of biodiversity through the environmentally sound and innovative management of the large swaths of land we own or lease throughout our service area.”
That new approach fills the O&R sites with colorful fields, rich with acres of flowering native plants and pollinating buzzing bees. A study of an O&R biodiversity site in Middletown last month identified 28 different bee species and 40 different native plants.
The enhancement of native plant species also provides more practical benefits to the community as well as to O&R customers by stabilizing the soil.
Tompkins said, “One of the many community advantages of native plant species is that they spend an extensive amount of time and energy in building their root masses. Some native species will spread their roots over six feet below grade, which ultimately allows for better water infiltration and a reduction in water runoff, which would otherwise lead to soil erosion and particle-filled waterways.”
He said, “Native vegetation, that isn’t regularly cut like a lawn, captures 500% more carbon from the atmosphere. These systems are quite actually carbon capture machines. Soil health is improved in the process of water infiltration, reduction in mowing, and capture of carbon. Then, of course, numerous wildlife species benefit from these native ecosystems as well.” Tompkins added, “Also, the program, often substantially reduces O&R property maintenance costs over time and helps maintain O&R electric system reliability.”
About O&ROrange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R), a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, is a regulated utility. O&R provides electric service to approximately 300,000 customers in southeastern New York State (where its franchise name is Orange & Rockland) and northern New Jersey (where it’s Rockland Electric Company) and natural gas service to approximately 130,000 customers in New York.