Huron to Erie Project’s 2012 Regional Corporate Habitat of the Year

OPG Lambton Generating Station: Small Species, Big Picture

When you think of wildlife, you probably don’t think of tufts of moss. But employees at Ontario Power Generation’s Lambton Generating Station near Sarnia take a comprehensive view of the biological communities on their site.

Photo (c) OPG Lambton Generating Station

Photo (c) OPG Lambton Generating Station

When they discovered the endangered spoon-leaved moss on their property, they began monitoring its locations, alerting the transmission line company that works on site, and educating employees and community members.

Spoon-leaved moss, it turns out, is on the edge of its range in southern Ontario, and has been observed at only a handful of locations in that province. Caring for the habitat of this little, primitive plant (mosses don’t have vascular systems or produce seeds) is part of the Lambton Generating Station Wildlife Team’s big-picture goal of protecting all of nature’s diversity. Mosses are part of the food web: moss mats are great habitat for small invertebrates like insects, mites, and spiders, which means great foraging for birds and other creatures.

Even noticing the presence of the diminutive plant was part of the team’s extensive efforts to survey their site. Some of the survey information is used to assess the progress of projects like nest boxes for native birds, reforestation, and a tall-grass prairie restoration.

The big picture comes in again when the Lambton Generating Station Wildlife Team considers how their site is situated in the landscape. “Fragmentation” of natural areas is an important contributor to habitat loss. The Lambton Generating Station team helped solve this problem by planting 11,500 native trees to form a corridor between two neighboring woodlands.

OPG Lambton 2

Photo (c) OPG Lambton Generating Station

The tree planting was done with help from a local school group, and other projects also involve community partners who offer expertise or learn from their participation. These include Sydenham Field Naturalists, St Clair Conservation Authority, the Rural Lambton Stewardship Network, and Lambton Wildlife, Inc.

OPG employees are engaged, too. They are encouraged to report wildlife sightings and volunteer to keep the habitat healthy. Sometimes their interests and knowledge are incorporated, as when an employee who is a falconer brought in a red-tailed hawk that was rescued nearby, so that the wildlife team could deliver it to a raptor rehabilitation center.

The OPG Lambton Generating Station wildlife program is an example of how a big-picture view of biodiversity and landscape ecology supports on-the-ground action including for some small, easily over-looked species. Congratulations on being named the Huron to Erie Project’s 2012 Regional Corporate Habitat of the Year.