It Takes Cinergy to Help Recover the Least Tern
by Lori Pruitt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Cinergy Corporation has been an active participant in efforts to restore and enhance wetland habitats in Indiana for a number of years, but in 1986, two small birds took the company to a new and greater level of conservation commitment: endangered species recovery.
It all started at the company's Gibson Generating Station - a facility that provides electricity to more than 1.4 million customers. Almost half of the property associated with the facility is covered by Gibson Lake, a 2,964-acre shallow-water impoundment that provides the plant's cooling water. Fourteen years ago, a local birder discovered a pair of Federally listed endangered least terns nesting on the large, rock dike that nearly bisects the lake.
After discovering the terns, Cinergy immediately began a cooperative program with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to protect the nesting pair. Later, the program was expanded to include the conservation and enhancement of tern habitat. The company's conservation efforts have been so successful that Gibson Lake has the only nesting colony of least terns in Indiana. The largest population observed at the site occurred in 1998: 85 adults and 72 fledglings.
In 1993, terns also began nesting in ash-disposal ponds and on gravel access roads associated with ash ponds. Cinergy altered operations to protect nests in these areas but was concerned that continued nesting in the plant's active areas could lead to a situation in which disturbing the terns would be unavoidable.
In 1999, Cinergy developed a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), the first in Indiana. A provision under the Endangered Species Act, an HCP allows landowners flexibility when lawful activities and the presence of endangered species are in conflict. Following HCP approval, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues a permit that authorizes "incidental take"(take that is incidental to but not the purpose of an activity) when the effects of the take are mitigated or minimized by conservation measures.
In its HCP, Cinergy commits to continued efforts to protect and enhance habitat on the Gibson Lake dike, which is the colony's primary nesting area. The permit allows for limited incidental take of terns nesting in active areas of the plant.
Cinergy is also working with the Service and Southwest Indiana Four Rivers Project partners to secure additional habitat for the terns. Partners will restore the 463-acre Cane Ridge Wildlife Area adjacent to the Gibson Generating Station. Restoration work will include the construction of nesting islands. It is hoped that the islands will prove more attractive to the terns than the active ash-deposition areas. The Service will manage this area as a unit of the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge.
The securement of this habitat not only benefits the birds but also advances the habitat goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan's Upper Mississippi River & Great Lakes Region Joint Venture - and all it took to make this happen was Cinergy.
For more information, contact Lori Pruitt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bloomington Indiana Field Office, 620 S. Walker Street, Bloomington, Indiana 47403, (812) 334-4261 extension 211, email@example.com.
Three Honored with Plan Awards
by Dee Butler, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
What do a retired director of a natural resources agency, a brewery, and a gas pipeline company have in common? They are all winners of North American Waterfowl Management Plan Committee awards.
The Plan Committee presents two different awards annually to organizations or individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to migratory bird conservation and to the Plan's implementation. The International Canvasback Award is given to those who have made substantial, long-term contributions to the implementation of the Plan throughout North America. The National Great Blue Heron Award is presented to primary participants in Plan activities who have made major, long-term contributions that benefit waterfowl and other migratory bird populations in either the United States, Canada, or Mexico.
For the year 2000, the Plan Committee selected The Williams Companies, Inc., and Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., to receive its National Great Blue Heron Award. Roger Holmes, retired director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, is the recipient of the International Canvasback Award.
The Williams Companies, Inc.
"The Williams Companies, Inc., is committed to protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment which is so important to us all," said Keith Bailey, the company's chairman, president, and chief executive officer. The truth of that commitment has been borne out repeatedly over the past 10 years.
Through its subsidiaries, Williams has donated more than 23,700 feet of steel pipe for use in habitat conservation projects in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kentucky. Project partners have used the pipe to manufacture water-control structures on private-lands projects covering approximately 19,000 acres, where landowners hold shallow water for wintering migratory birds.
In southwest Oklahoma, pipe collected from Williams' five natural gas pipe companies was used to construct a 17-mile aqueduct to deliver more than 2,000 acre-feet of water annually from the Tom Steed Reservoir to a 3,750-acre natural basin known as Hackberry Flat. Prior to its drainage for farmland at the turn of the 20th century, this basin was the most important wetland in the State for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. With the help of Williams the historical significance of Hackberry Flat to migratory birds has been restored.
Over the last decade, Williams has donated more than $1 million in steel pipe used to help conserve migratory bird habitats throughout the Southeast and Southwest United States. For their long-standing commitment and significant contributions to migratory bird conservation, Joe Kramer, on behalf of the Plan Committee, presented Bailey with the National Great Blue Heron Award at a luncheon in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 22nd.
In presenting the award, Mr. Kramer said, "Private company support is critical to wetland conservation in North America. Williams' donation of materials and assistance at the Hackberry Flats restoration project in Oklahoma, and at the many other wetland projects in the southern states, is greatly appreciated. Without the help of Williams, many of the wetland projects that have been completed would have been delayed or impossible to initiate. Thanks to Williams, a giant step has been taken toward accomplishing the Plan's habitat objectives."
Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., has a long and distinguished record of contributions to the conservation of habitats and wildlife. The Busch name first became associated with habitat conservation in 1947, with the establishment of the 7,000-acre August A. Busch Memorial Wildlife Area near St. Louis, Missouri. That early project was followed by company-supported wetlands conservation projects in each of the four flyways.
Most recently, Anheuser-Busch and its nation-wide network of distributors set a new "gold standard" for conservation through a nation-wide campaign that resulted in more than $4.5 million being raised for waterfowl and wetland conservation associated with the 14,000-acre August A. Busch, Jr., Memorial Wetlands Project in Missouri.
In other areas, Anheuser-Busch has promoted conservation through media advertising and in-store communications. It also has donated "cents-per-case" to partner organizations to protect valuable habitat along South Carolina's Ace River Basin and North Carolina's shoreline, both areas of interest to the Plan's Atlantic Coast Joint Venture.
The company also supports environmental stewardship through its Budweiser Outdoors Program, a partnership that includes The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., Quail Unlimited, Buckmasters, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The partnership reaches an estimated 70 million outdoorsmen every year with the message that good sportsmanship is also good conservation. Anheuser-Busch has supported numerous environmental education programs and has implemented environmentally friendly business practices under its own roof.
"Throughout our history, we have shown - and continue to show today - our commitment to the environment," said August A. Busch III. "As far as we're concerned, preserving the environment is not only good business, but it's also the right thing to do."
For its considerable contributions to migratory bird conservation in the United States, Plan Committee co-chair David Smith presented the National Great Blue Heron Award to August A. Busch III on April 20th at the Anheuser-Busch corporate offices in St. Louis, Missouri.
"When Anheuser Busch contributed $400,000 in 1986 to a public-private partnership, involving several states, Ducks Unlimited, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, it helped to jump-start the Plan's first-step projects in the four flyways," said Smith. "At the time, the company probably underestimated the historical significance of their contribution: the creation of a conservation-partnership model that would be used not only by waterfowl conservationists, but also by songbird, colonial waterbird, and shorebird enthusiasts.
"Now, more than a decade later, Anheuser-Busch is still making conservation history. The company's and its distributors' $4.5 million contribution to the August A. Busch, Jr., Memorial Wetlands Project is, perhaps, the largest single contribution made to wetlands conservation in U.S. history, certainly, in Plan history," Smith continued. "If you are wondering how people will look back on the forthcoming era of migratory bird conservation, keep an eye on Anheuser-Busch. They are in the business of making history."
When one examines the career path of Roger Holmes, it appears that from the start he was on a trek that would eventually end up with him taking home the International Canvasback Award. His life's work is the embodiment of the reason for which the Plan Committee created the International Canvasback Award.
Early in his career, Mr. Holmes was getting his conservation feet wet acquiring and managing wildlife areas under Minnesota's Save the Wetlands program. As he progressed on his career path, he did not leave his passion for habitat conservation behind. As chief of the Section of Wildlife, he expanded the State's system of wildlife management areas. Now including 1,280 units, the system encompasses more than 1 million acres of habitat.
His contributions to conservation in Minnesota were many, but his conservation efforts were not limited by state boundaries. Holmes served as a member and later chair of the Mississippi Flyway Council and chair of the National Flyway Council. His conservation activities reached across the continent while serving two terms as a member of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Committee. As one of the original members of the Plan Committee, Holmes made a lasting contribution to the Plan's implementation and continuation by helping to set the direction and approach to conserving waterfowl populations and their habitats throughout North America.
Holmes also influenced the making of policy and law to benefit habitat conservation. He worked with the Minnesota state legislature to create and secure passage of the Reinvest in Minnesota Program. Since the program's inception in 1986, $130 million of state funds have been invested in conserving fish, wildlife, and native plant habitats. Because of this program, more than 450,000 acres of habitat have been protected or enhanced in Minnesota, helping the Plan's Prairie Pothole and Upper Mississippi River & Great Lakes Region Joint Ventures meet their habitat goals.
Holmes' influence on conservation legislation also was not to be contained by state boundaries. Recognizing the link between federal farm policy and local grassland management, he helped to shape the conservation components of the 1985 Federal Farm Bill. Using data from studies conducted at Minnesota's Farmland Wildlife Research Station in the early 1980s, Holmes worked with the Wildlife Management Institute to secure key conservation provisions of the Farm Bill's Conservation Reserve Program. These efforts eventually led to the establishment of grassy cover on more than 36 million acres of erodible cropland in the United States.
While president of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Holmes spear-headed the work behind the Teaming with Wildlife Initiative, which is now embodied in the proposed Conservation and Reinvestment Act before Congress. The proposed legislation could result in millions, if not billions, of dollars being funneled into habitat conservation.
Holmes retired this year. As active in retirement as he was during his career, we were unable to arrange a formal presentation of the award. He is at the helm of his boat, sailing in Canada and doing a little fishing. Mr. Holmes, you deserve the pleasures that retirement can bring. You earned them.
Provincial Partners Merge Efforts
by Holly Jackson and Silke Neve, British Columbia Wetlands Joint Venture Secretariat
Partnership is not just another buzzword in habitat conservation. Just ask Environment Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, and The Nature Trust of British Columbia. These four organizations have experienced the power of partnerships and have created a new office to further wetland conservation in British Columbia (BC).
The BC Wetlands Joint Venture Secretariat has been established to coordinate, facilitate, and market wetland conservation in the Province. One of the Secretariat's roles is to coordinate activities within existing partnership programs, including BC's involvement in the Pacific Coast Joint Venture and the Intermountain Wetland Conservation Program. The Secretariat also acts as liaison with and provides direction to the BC portions of the Boreal Forest Initiative, the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture, the Arctic Goose Joint Venture, and the Sea Duck Joint Venture.
"It is a coordinated effort to tackle challenges and increase opportunities in wetland conservation," said Ian Barnett of DUC. "We want to maximize our ability to secure funds as well as market, communicate, and deliver wetland conservation programs in BC."
The Secretariat is promoting a new approach for conserving BC's wildlife habitat. Historically, wetland conservation has been implemented through a number of regionally based programs. "We felt there was a need to address wetland conservation from a provincial standpoint," explained Barnett. "The BC Wetlands Joint Venture merges the common elements of regional programs and addresses them at the provincial level."
One of the long-term objectives of the Secretariat is to generate partnerships that will pool resources targeted at conserving the Province's wetlands. British Columbia Hydro has indicated strong interest and is participating in some wetland education and extension programs as well as helping fund restoration efforts.
Wetland conservation programs, such as those established under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, have been successful in showcasing the effectiveness of partnership concept. The Secretariat provides conservation partners in BC with the vehicle to better meet the challenges laid out in the Plan's 1998 update. It will also help set the stage for broadening partnerships for delivering the North American Bird Conservation Initiative.
For more information, contact Holly Jackson or Silke Neve, British Columbia Wetlands Joint Venture Secretariat, 954 A Laval Crescent, Kamloops, British Columbia V2C 5P5, (888) 757-7033, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Historic Agreement Signed with Manitoba Farmer
by Tim Sopuck, Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation
A Minnedosa, Manitoba, farm family has been the first to complete a conservation easement, a conservation tool that is starting to take off in this province.
Rick and Linda Nylen signed a perpetual conservation easement agreement that secures habitat on 80 acres of their land south of Minnedosa. In return, the Delta Waterfowl Foundation (Foundation) and Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation (Corporation), through the Potholes Plus Program, compensated them for their contribution.
"I get to do what I want with my land, but I get an agreement to conserve the habitat," said Rick Nylen. "It's a one-time payment and the habitat stays forever." Agricultural use will continue on portions of the property. Nylen plans to graze cattle using a twice-over rotational grazing system that should provide wildlife and beef production benefits.
"Nylen's land is valuable wildlife habitat," said Gerald Forsyth, Corporation field representative in Minnedosa. "The entire 80-acre-parcel has upland nesting cover and wetlands that provide nesting habitat for a wide array of birds."
The Province of Manitoba only recently passed legislation paving the way for conservation easements in Manitoba. As word of this option spreads, conservation agencies are pleasantly surprised by the level of landowner interest.
"Hardly a day goes by without a landowner calling me to find out more," said Forsyth. The Corporation and the Foundation have 32 more easements either completed or in progress (as of May 1, 2000).
Nylen's Agreement, the first in Manitoba where a landowner received compensation, is being supported through the Potholes Plus Program. "It's a partnership between the Corporation and the Foundation that focuses on long-term habitat conservation in cooperation with local landowners," said Jim Fisher, a Foundation spokesperson. Funding provided through a North American Wetlands Conservation Council Act grant helps to support Potholes Plus Program activities.
The Foundation established a nature trail on the site and demonstrates a variety of habitat-management techniques. Its field research station, which supports graduate research projects, is just across the road from the Nylen property.
Before conservation easements, landowners only had two long-term habitat-conservation choices: they could sell or donate land. Acquiring land for habitat conservation has been a sensitive local issue as many see it as taking agricultural land away from the farming community. Marion Sharpe, a neighbouring farmer and local government representative, sees merit in conservation easements. "They keep marginal land out of production and are preferable to conservation agencies buying entire parcels," she said.
"I guess the biggest direct benefit is the money I get in return for the easement," Nylen said. "The resale value may be less because of the easement, but I've captured that because of the payment I received for it already. It's a great way to get along," added Nylen. "It keeps the agricultural people happy as well as the conservation people."
For more information, contact Tim Sopuck, Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation, (204) 784-4350, firstname.lastname@example.org.