The FCA US Headquarters and Technology Center, also known as the Auburn Hills Complex sits on a 550-acres corporate campus in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It serves as the North American headquarters for FCA, as well as its main research and development facility. The campus buildings and test track are surrounded by natural wetlands, stormwater ponds, upland and floodplain forest and landscaped areas.
Located in the wetlands is a heron rookery, where over 25 pairs of great blue herons have nested since 2006. FCA works to limit human disturbance of the nesting birds, as this might cause them to abandon their nests. Efforts are also taken to control and filter stormwater runoff that might enter the wetlands to protect water quality for the herons and their prey. The wetlands are also the location of a recently-installed wood duck nest box, as well as a beaver dam.
There are numerous pollinator gardens, including one that is a certified Monarch Waystation installed near one of the ponds. FCA also partnered with the on-campus First Nations Resource Group to install a garden near the main cafeteria that features culturally-important plants such as the three sisters (corn, beans and squash) and medicinal herbs.
Partnerships with local conservation organizations and schools help make this program as successful as it is. One of FCA’s strongest partnerships is with Avondale High School. Avondale students have participated in multiple projects over the years: they helped plant one of the pollinator gardens, they constructed bat houses, they built insect hotels (along with students from another school, Bowers Academy). The students also participated in a competition about reducing carbon, with the best projects presented at that year’s Earth Day event. In addition, every year FCA helps the students learn about stream ecology through the Stream Leaders stream monitoring program. David Jump, Environmental Health and Safety Specialist, understands how working with students like this is valuable for not only raising awareness of conservation issues, but encouraging an interest in STEM fields as well: “I want to be able to show these young people what STEM is, how cool it really is, and maybe give them a push to come into something like it.”
Other local organizations also contribute a great deal to the program and its success. The Oakland Audubon Society helps conduct bird and butterfly surveys several times a year, and leads employee “nature strolls” during the annual Earth Day event. Trout Unlimited also mapped an on-site creek connected to the wetlands and released juvenile trout to promote healthy fish populations.
In addition to FCA’s robust partnerships, employees have a strong enthusiasm for the projects that keeps the program going strong. Tonya Hunter, an Ecologist with contractor Environmental Consulting & Technology, remarked how FCA employees are “very enthusiastic about the wildlife and very passionate and excited” about the conservation projects. After participating in a trial use of EchoMeter Touch 2 acoustic bat detectors with WHC and local partners, a small group of employees even purchased their own bat detectors and survey the site for bats after hours a few times each year.
When it comes to successful conservation programs, a combination of strong partnerships and enthusiastic employees is a great approach to create long-lasting, positive outcomes.
|Site Name:||FCA US Headquarters and Technology Center|
|Categories:||Avian, Awareness and Community Engagement, Bats, Landscaping, Wetlands|
|Site Location:||Auburn Hills|
|Partners:||Avondale High School, Bright View Landscaping Services, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc. (ECT), Eurest Food Service, Oakland Audubon Society, Organization for Bat Conservation, Trout Unlimited|
|Certification Level:||Gold Certified|
|WHC Index Link:||Search for project|