An agreement with the American Transmission Co. is moving forward after approval by the Jackson County Executive and Finance Committee.

At its Jan. 8 meeting, the committee gave the nod to easement requests from ATC to allow it to run high-voltage transmission lines through 16.47 acres of county forest land.

ATC asked to be allowed temporary access to the land so it can clear vegetation, set foundations and poles and string wire. The company’s request includes an .85 access easement to the county-owned land. The resolution also designates that the transmission line company will restore the land.

As part of the agreement, ATC will pay the county $49,500 for the easement and an additional $500 for the access permit. An additional $500 payment would grant the company permission to apply herbicides on the easement corridor.

Jackson County Board of Supervisors tabled the resolution for the Badger Coulee Transmission Line in December because of concerns from the Jackson County Forestry Committee.

The transmission line company is working with Xcel Energy to build the Badger Coulee transmission line from Holmen to Blair to Black River Falls. From Black River Falls, the line will extend along Interstate 94 to Dane County. The 180-mile line is expected to be operational late this year.

For the forestry committee, the underlying issue regarding the transmission line company’s requests was the principle that ATC should meet the same requirements as anyone else using the forest.

Usage requirements would include trimming trees in a manner to prevent the spread of oak wilt and taking steps to avoid transferring invasive species.

The county’s forestry committee has additional provisions it would like the transmission line company to agree to, although those weren’t included in the resolution. The committee asked whether the company would agree to stack the sawn wood according to species to make it easier for those picking up the wood, and to build a six-foot fence along I-94 to keep elk and other animals from the roadway.

A company spokesperson suggested the county could use a $1.9 million environmental impact fee to construct the fence.

ATC is under no obligation to agree to the committee’s additional stipulations; state law prohibits public entities from prohibiting construction of the line.

The resolution now moves to the Jackson County Board for approval.


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