Pipeline Right of Way Clearance
How Tree Removal Helps Prevent Pipeline Damage

Trees and Your Pipeline Right of Way

The largest enemy of your pipeline right of way (ROW) is growing right out of the ground. When trees, large shrubs or woody stemmed-plants grow too close to the boundary of your right of way, maintenance tasks can become a struggle and damage to your pipeline can easily occur. Implement a vegetation management plan to combat this growth, and ultimately keeping the lights on for your utility customers.

Encroached Roots


Encroaching root systems pose the biggest threat to your underground pipeline. Soil surrounding most buried pipelines is less compact, and tree roots are prone to growing into these areas. Without proper vegetation management tactics, roots continuously grow – leading to major headaches down the line for crew members when it’s time for scheduled maintenance.

It’s a common misconception that tree roots look like their branches above. Actually, roots spread out farther from the trunk than the branches do. While roots mostly grow in shallow soil, with enough oxygen they will keep growing in search of water and nutrients deeper into the ground. The deeper they grow, the closer they can come to your pipeline.

Pipeline Damage

Vegetation growing too close to your pipeline causes damage in more ways than one. Left unattended, roots wrap themselves around pipelines, making access nearly impossible for right of way workers during maintenance and inspection. When this happens, roots can crack the protective coating of the pipeline and lead to corrosion. Additionally, if the tree in question gets uprooted during a major storm or natural disaster, it can rupture the pipeline.

Aerial Inspections

Wild, unmanageable roots aren’t the only threat trees present to your ROW. Many utility companies conduct routine aerial inspections for pipeline management, but trees growing too close to the right of way make these mandatory inspections nearly impossible. With new advancements in technology, drones are now able to perform inspections. However, thick canopies of leaves can block these surveillance efforts. Pruning is an effective way to manage this, paired with a custom herbicide plan as administered by your vegetation management partner.

Maintenance Complications

Trees or shrubs encroaching on a pipeline also present challenges for workers on the ground conducting routine maintenance. Federal law requires all rights-of-way must be maintained to allow for proper inspection, and any vegetation impeding on this must be removed. Brush removal is the most effective means for adhering to these regulations and avoiding costly fines.

Working with an experienced vegetation management and right of way clearance company is your utility company’s best defense against unwanted trees. Row Care LLC, a division of The Townsend Corporation, provides utility companies with tailored right of way management plans to keep pipelines in regulation and free of overgrown vegetation.

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