I recently participated in one of the monthly team meetings for the BP Warm Springs Ponds program. As the Director of Field Programs, I no longer get a chance to regularly interact with site-level teams and dive into the nuts and bolts of maintaining a program. Needless to say, I miss it. So you can probably understand why I jumped at the chance to be part of the conference call–even if I secretly would have been willing to travel to beautiful Montana to attend in person!
I was delighted to become acquainted with such a great team. Company employees, consultants, and contractors all joined in to share progress on conservation, habitat, and education activities. Situated in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest region of Montana, Warm Springs Pond is not your typical program: the site serves as a treatment facility for water contaminated by historical mining. It’s a huge area at 2,500 acres and consists of three large ponds and a series of smaller wildlife ponds. Maintaining programs—with no large workforce on site— is no small task.
The monthly team meetings follow a simple yet efficient format: they use their task list (which doubles as a timeline) to update each other and guide resources planning. The team approaches their education activities and on-the-ground habitat initiatives in a streamlined manner: the two are aligned to strengthen the company’s goals of ensuring that waterfowl production is maximized, the fishery is maintained, existing flora and fauna are preserved, the community is involved in conservation education and new ideas for increased biodiversity are developed.
If I had to pick this team’s top two ingredients for success (the program is a former Corporate Habitat of the Year award winner), I would highlight their willingness to engage in partnerships and their interest in using technology to facilitate implementation of their program.
The projects are made possible through partnerships with diverse groups, including the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department (MFWP), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, University of Montana, Clark Fork Watershed Education Program, Montana Audubon Society, and local schools. Different team members are tasked with initiating and maintaining the relationships; under this strategy, shared responsibilities allow each of them to collaborate with stakeholders and be connected with the community. On the technology side, the team uses Dropbox, the web-based file sharing program, to gather entries for their internal photography contest and as a central repository for monitoring logs and program information. The Wildlife Habitat Council’s Conservation Academy online training seminars ares also used for training. The team is also working toward setting a live video feed to observe and monitor their osprey nest.
I encourage you to consult the program’s description on the Conservation Registry to learn more about this excellent program.