Impact of right-of-way construction on vegetation in the Red Lake Peatland, northern Minnesota

David F. Grigal

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4 Scopus citations


During the winters of 1978-79 and 1979-80, a 500-kV electrical transmission right-of-way (r-o-w) was constructed across the Red Lake Peatland in northwestern Minnesota, the largest contiguous peatland in the lower 48 states of the USA. Immediately before, and for two years following construction, vascular vegetation was monitored within the r-o-w and in undisturbed control areas. Monitoring was carried out in five vegetation types: a thicket swamp, a low shrub bog, a graminoid fen, a treed bog, and a treed fen. Evaluation of construction impacts was based on vegetation structure, irrespective of species composition, and on community composition (species data for low shrubs and herbs). Construction eliminated trees from the r-o-w. Vegetation structure, excluding trees, was markedly altered in the two bog types and the treed fen type in the first postconstruction growing season. By the second season, measurable recovery to control levels had begun. The sample plots were placed into a previously developed vegetation classification system for the Red Lake Peatland, on the basis of herbs and low shrubs. There was a shift in composition in the low shrub bog and in the treed vegetation types following construction. Results of both methods of data analysis were consistent. Major vegetation changes following construction occurred in the low shrub bog and treed types. The open, low-stature fen types showed almost no changes related to construction. Even in the affected types, all vegetation strata except trees were returning to their preconstruction status by the second growing season following construction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-454
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental management
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1985


  • Discriminant analysis
  • Histosols
  • Organic soil
  • Transmission lines
  • Wetlands


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