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ITC transmission lines in a beautiful rural setting

Environmental Programs

Our Commitment to Sustainability

Even though we don’t generate electricity or sell it directly to customers, we know ITC Great Plains has a role to play in creating a greener energy future. That’s why we integrate sustainability into everything we do as a company, whether that’s enabling the transmission of new sources of renewable energy or actively reducing our own carbon footprint.

Read below to learn about our recent efforts.

CCAA Monarch Program

In keeping with a longtime commitment to conservation efforts and good land stewardship for the communities it serves, ITC has enrolled 98,000 acres across six states in a federal program to protect and grow habitat for the threatened monarch butterfly.

The monarch butterfly is an important pollinator that has seen drastic population losses over the past 20 years—by as much as 80% for eastern populations of the butterfly and a shocking 99% for western populations. This isn’t just bad news for the butterflies. Pollinators are necessary to more than a third of crop production.

In response to this decline, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has taken proactive measures and created a nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) designed to engage energy and power transmission companies like ITC in vital conservation efforts that benefit the monarch butterfly. The voluntary program establishes consistent conservation measures and provides regulatory certainty for participating landowners.

The threatened monarch butterfly

What is a CCAA?  

A CCAA is a formal agreement to address the conservation needs of at-risk species before they become listed as threatened or endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Landowners voluntarily commit to conservation measures that help stabilize or restore the species with the goal that an endangered listing will become unnecessary.

ITC is an ideal candidate for the monarch CCAA program because the company maintains large strips of land in rights-of-way, or easements, for its electric transmission lines. In fact, ITC was one of the first dozen utilities to apply and was recently accepted after a yearlong application process.

“The landscape-scale restoration work ITC is doing to establish and enhance pollinator habitat on utility corridors is essential to the survival of monarchs, plus it will support many other conservation values,” said Lisa Hein, Senior Director for Conservation Programs for the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. “We appreciate ITC’s leadership and believe the proactive measures will encourage others to take similar action.”

White daisy stands out in yellow flower field

The utility is committed to implementing conservation measures that will serve to benefit monarch butterfly habitat on a minimum of 42% of its enrolled lands on an annual basis. This far exceeds the 18% as required by the CCAA. The locations and number of enrolled ITC acres are wide-reaching and will have a significant beneficial impact for monarch butterflies.

“Saving the monarch requires a collective effort to provide habitat on the landscape,” said Sean P. Sweeney, Fish and Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We welcome the participation of ITC in the Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterfly on Energy and Transportation Lands. ITC joins a growing group of businesses and agencies dedicated to securing the future of the monarch by creating and conserving habitat along rights of way across the country.”

Participation in the monarch butterfly CCAA is the latest milestone in a long history of ITC action and financial support for pollinators and their habitats.

The Leopold Conservation Award

The Smith Family, of Elk City, Oklahoma

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat resources in their care. 

In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.” Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 25 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. 

Smith Family Farms of Elk City was selected as the recipient of the 2022 Oklahoma Leopold Conservation Award®. Jimmy and Cathy Smith and their adult children, Spencer and Calli, are cotton growers from Beckham County. The Smiths were presented with $10,000 and a crystal award at the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts’ Annual Meeting on February 27. 

“ITC Great Plains congratulates Smith Family Farms for being selected as the 2022 Oklahoma Leopold Conservation Award recipient,” said Kim Goodnight, Regional Manager, Community Relations. “We are committed to environmental responsibility at ITC. We applaud the Smith family for its dedication to being good stewards of the land and our natural resources. Their work embodies the principles of the Leopold Conservation Award and we’re pleased to help recognize their environmental commitment.” 

The first Oklahoma Leopold Conservation Award was presented to Jimmy and Ginger Emmons of Leedey in 2017. The 2021 award was presented to Lazy KT Ranch of Freedom.