Dow’s Texas Operations Recieves International Habitat Conservation Award
Freeport, Texas - Employees at The Dow Chemical Company’s Texas Operations received international recognition for their contributions to wildlife habitat conservation at the Wildlife Habitat Council’s (WHC) 20th Annual Symposium, 20/20 Vision: Celebrating the Past, Looking to the Future. The Dow Chemical Company demonstrates its commitment to environmental stewardship and increasing native biodiversity by achieving habitat recertification at the Texas Operations.
“There are so many outstanding examples of Dow’s great work to protect the environment right here in Southern Brazoria County,” said Rose Wagner, Leader of the Texas Operations Wildlife Support Team. “The Nature Refuge located just off FM 2004 is approximately 200 acres that we’ve set aside to serve as a nature refuge. More than 350 trees and shrubs and 2,000 aquatic plants are located in the refuge.”
“In addition to wetland plantings, we constructed a pond with much advice from WHC. These are actively managed to provide wildlife habitat,” said Wagner. “It provides habitat for pied-billed grebes, eastern meadowlark and scissor-tailed flycatchers. Wildflower meadows are also seeded and managed throughout the site.”
Another significant conservation effort initiated at Texas Operations is a redfish-rearing program. The program began in several ponds located within the plant’s boundaries. That site project grew to become the Sea Center Texas. Sea Center is a state-of-the-art marine fish hatchery and visitor center located in Lake Jackson. The 75-acre facility was created in cooperation with Dow, the Coastal Conservancy Association and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The center is dedicated to restoration of redfish along the Texas coast and education on the Gulf Coast and its many ecosystems.
“None of this would be possible it it weren’t for our TOWST (Texas Operations Wildlife Support Team),” said Wagner. “The TOWST membership is made up of a group of volunteers who work on these projects in their own time. They manage numerous other wildlife projects throughout the site and at locations around the area.”
The TOWST team manages the largest black skimmer colony on the Texas Coast in an area that is also a breeding site for least terns and gull-billed terns. Approximately 1,400 black skimmers return each spring to this site to nest on a former parking lot of crushed oyster shell and limestone. The skimmer colony grew from seven pairs in 1968 to over 600 nesting pairs in 2008.
With the help of site employees and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the team carefully maintains and monitors the colony, a featured stop along the Texas Coastal Birding Trail. In 2008, the team received their first opportunity to record the return of banded black skimmers at the Texas Operations site.
“Texas Operations also supports the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory in addressing declining bird populations through avian research,” said Wagner. GCBO works to protect Gulf Coast habitat from the Yucatan to the Florida Keys which is utilized as a stopover for migratory songbirds.”
GCBO’s Sight Partner Network was developed to facilitate conservation activities and to link those partners to address the needs of migratory birds in the Gulf of Mexico region. The partner network expanded and activities involving habitat acquisition, restoration and education were completed.
The Quintana Neo-Tropical Bird Sanctuary was doubled in size to continue to support maintenance and surveying activities. The sanctuary welcomed the addition of an observation tower for enhanced bird watching in 2006. TOWST provides upkeep for the park including mowing, trail maintenance, pond maintenance, and tree planting. Team members also participate in the annual bird census, which identified 75 species in October 2004.
Recently, TOWST participated in the design and location of two new birding ponds added to Xeriscape Park and two ponds at the Quintana Neo-tropical Bird Sanctuary. Additional community birding activities, including the Annual Migration Celebration, Great Texas Birding Classic and Annual Audubon Bird Counts are supported by the team.
“This year, our 20th Anniversary, WHC celebrates two decades of solid leadership and on-the-ground achievements by our members in wildlife habitat preservation and conservation education,” said Robert Johnson, WHC President. “WHC members are continuing to lead the way to further define and demonstrate how corporations can use their lands to preserve our biodiversity, while preparing new generations through conservation education to understand how to be better leaders and managers for tomorrow’s sustainable businesses and communities. Congratulations to The Dow Chemical Company for their volunteer-based efforts to preserve the biodiversity of their community and the world, and to connect people to nature.”
WHC’s certification program recognizes outstanding wildlife habitat management and environmental education efforts at corporate sites, and offers third-party validation of the benefits of such programs. Certification requirements are strict and require that sites apply for periodic renewal.
With annual sales of $54 billion and 46,000 employees worldwide, Dow is a diversified chemical company that combines the power of science and technology with the “ Human Element ” to constantly improve what is essential to human progress. The Company delivers a broad range of products and services to customers in around 160 countries, connecting chemistry and innovation with the principles of sustainability to help provide everything from fresh water, food and pharmaceuticals to paints, packaging and personal care products. References to “Dow” or the “Company” mean The Dow Chemical Company and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise expressly noted.
Celebrating 20 years in conservation, the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) is a nonprofit, non-lobbying organization dedicated to increasing the quality and amount of wildlife habitat on corporate, private and public lands. WHC devotes its resources to building partnerships with corporations and conservation groups to create solutions that balance the demands of economic growth with the requirements of a healthy, biodiverse and sustainable environment. More than 2.4 million acres in 46 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 16 other countries are managed for wildlife through WHC-assisted projects. To learn more, visit www.wildlifehc.org.
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