By Mark S. Kuhar
Employees at Vulcan Materials Co.’s Stafford Quarry in Virginia received international recognition for their contributions to wildlife habitat conservation at the Wildlife Habitat Council’s (WHC) 22nd Annual Symposium, The Business of Biodiversity.
“The Wildlife Habitat Council believes that collaboration among all stakeholder groups is critical to addressing the complex issues facing the sustainability of the planet,” said Robert Johnson, WHC president. “WHC members take a leading role in connecting community stakeholders through wildlife habitat enhancement, community outreach and conservation education. Congratulations to Vulcan for their commitment to a healthy natural world and connected communities.”
The Stafford Quarry is located on approximately 250 acres in Stafford County, Virginia. The managed habitat consists of forests, landscaped areas, wetlands, meadow areas, and gardens. Water for wildlife is readily available on the site from streams, small ponds, and the Aquia Creek, which borders a portion of the site. There are forest stands consisting of poplar, oak, white pine, eastern red cedar, and a variety of shrubs.
The nest-box monitoring program remains an integral part of the Stafford Quarry’s wildlife habitat-enhancement program, with employees regularly replacing, maintaining, and monitoring the 10 nest boxes. Eastern bluebirds and tree swallows regularly use the boxes.
The wildlife team also monitors a 24-unit purple martin house. This house has not been successful in attracting the birds in recent years so the wildlife team followed the recommendation of “Stoke’s Guide to Purple Martins” and installed a decoy martin on the house to attract them to that structure. On the recommendation of their landscaper, the wildlife team also installed an artificial gourd nesting structure to help attract purple martins to the site in the spring of 2010.
Additionally, killdeer nest and fledge offspring at the site, and bald eagles return to the site annually. The wildlife team continues to maintain and monitor brush piles throughout the property, enhancing the habitat for small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The wildlife team also maintains snags and fallen trees and tree branches in the forested areas of the property. Snags provide perching and nesting habitat for a variety of species found on-site, including raptors such as eagles and turkey vultures, and other birds such as chickadees.
In addition to forest habitat, the wildlife team manages habitat for pollinators. The team expanded the existing pollinator garden and planted a second pollinator garden in 2010. To provide additional cover for butterflies in the pollinator gardens, the wildlife team acquired two small butterfly houses to place in the new garden. The team also decided to convert areas of lawn to wildflower meadow habitat.
Quarry employees marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day last year by participating in the annual Rappahannock River Clean-up organized by the Friends of the Rappahannock. Quarry employees removed enough trash to fill the bed of a pickup truck. The annual cleanup improves water quality by preventing trash from entering the watershed.
Wildlife at Work
The Stafford Quarry was one of 281 sites recognized at the 2010 Symposium for creating a “Wildlife at Work” program. In addition, 56 “Corporate Lands for Learning” (CLL) programs reach thousands of learners from schools and scout groups to master gardeners and university researchers. Since 1990, WHC has certified 640 “Wildlife at Work” and 128 CLL programs worldwide.
The 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.
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. WHC-assisted wildlife habitat and conservation education programs are found in 43 states, the District of Columbia and nine other countries.
To learn more about The Wildlife Habitat Council, visit www.wildlifehc.org.