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Wildlife Habitat Council Recognizes Koch Companies for Environmental Stewardship

Six Koch companies’ sites received Wildlife at Work certification from Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) for successful environmental stewardship and habitat conservation. Koch Industries’ subsidiaries Flint Hills Resources, Georgia-Pacific, INVISTA and Matador Cattle Company were recognized at Wildlife Habitat Council’s annual symposium Nov. 11 in Baltimore.

Wildlife at Work certification is part of WHC’s international accreditation program in which companies create and employees volunteer to maintain wildlife habitat areas on corporate land. Certification requirements are strict and require that programs apply for periodic renewal.

“The Wildlife Habitat Council connects corporations, conservation, and community to create habitat and increase biodiversity. The projects honored at the symposium are the best examples of our model at work,” said Margaret O’Gorman, Wildlife Habitat Council president. “Congratulations to the Koch companies for their successful efforts towards habitat enhancement and biodiversity.”

“Koch companies and employees share a respect for our natural resources, demonstrated by our 14-year commitment to these WHC projects. We are very proud of the success these employee-led conservation programs have had in protecting and enhancing the natural areas around the facilities,” said Sheryl Corrigan, director of environmental, health and safety for Koch Industries, Inc.

Flint Hills Resources set aside 120 acres for its Wildlife Learning Preserve at its Corpus Christi, Texas, site. Employees work to maintain and enhance the preserve, which consists of coastal marshes, fresh water ponds, upland grasses, mudflats and mesquite brushland. A series of bird nesting boxes have been installed and are monitored to determine the type and number of birds on the site. This year the preserve, which includes eight bat houses, was also nominated by WHC for the Bat Conservation Action Award. The site originally received Wildlife at Work certification in 2001 and also holds WHC Corporate Lands for Learning certification.

Employees at Georgia-Pacific’s Leaf River Cellulose mill in New Augusta manage diverse wildlife habitat areas on more than 1,000 acres in southeastern Mississippi. They have planted longleaf pine, bluestem and Indian grass to provide better habitat for the gopher tortoise, a federally listed threatened species. Employees also manage habitat for purple martins and timberland to enhance the site’s wildlife capacity in addition to maintaining pollinator fields as a food source for wildlife. The site first received Wildlife at Work certification in 2001 and also holds Corporate Lands for Learning certification.

At Georgia-Pacific’s containerboard mill in Monticello, Mississippi, about 1,600 acres are actively managed for wildlife. The site was first certified by WHC in 1997. The efforts of employees on the wildlife team are focused on enhancing landscaped areas, managing wetlands and woodlands, and incorporating community awareness and interest into the site’s program. Employees have transformed a former baseball field into a wildlife meadow that attracts pollinators and provides foraging habitat for white-tailed deer and wild turkey populations.

About 12 acres of Georgia-Pacific’s Green Bay, Wisconsin, Broadway consumer products mill site and its approximately 800-acre landfill are being managed to enhance the wildlife population. Employees have installed bluebird and other nest boxes on the properties, including a nest box for peregrine falcons, which have made their home on the mill site for several years. They also plan to improve habitat areas to attract additional aquatic, avian and grassland wildlife. This is the first certification for the site.

The wildlife team at INVISTA’s Camden site, located in Lugoff, South Carolina, maintains a 640-acre wildlife habitat area that includes forests, grasslands, wetlands and one mile of shoreline along the Wateree River. The nest box monitoring program targets Eastern bluebirds, wood ducks, purple martins and prothonotary warblers. Other wildlife seen at the site includes screech owls, Carolina wrens, chickadees, great crested flycatchers, nuthatches, wild turkeys and deer. This year the site was also a finalist for WHC’s Upland Wildlife Management Award for outstanding wild turkey management and Wings Over Wetlands Award for protection of wetland habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. Camden has been a Wildlife at Work certified site since 1992.

Matador Cattle Company’s Beaverhead Ranch covers approximately 345,000 acres near Dillon, Montana. The ranch’s wildlife team has re-established westslope cutthroat trout on two miles of Bear Creek, and is working to establish the species at Peet Creek in 2015. By following a variety of timber and grassland management practices, Beaverhead now provides calving grounds for hundreds of elk and supports about 5,000 head on a seasonal basis. Other wildlife species benefited are white-tailed deer, mule deer, antelope, and moose. In the Blacktail benches area, additional animals benefited are coyotes, mountain lions, bears, blue herons, sandhill cranes and bald eagles. Beaverhead is the only ranching operation to hold Wildlife at Work certification, which it first received in 2002.

In total, Koch companies hold 16 Wildlife Habitat Council certifications across 12 sites.

Other Koch sites holding WHC certification are: Flint Hills Resources in Rosemount, Minnesota, and Joliet, Illinois; Georgia-Pacific in Big Island, Virginia, and Rincon, Georgia; INVISTA in Waynesboro, Virginia, and Victoria, Texas.