Wildlife Habitat Council Announces the Best of Southeast Michigan and Southwest Ontario

By Martha Gruelle|July 11, 2016

Wildlife Habitat Council’s Huron to Erie Waterways for Wildlife Project has announced this year’s winners of the project’s regional awards; the Huron to Erie Project unites about 40 corporate conservation programs in southeast Michigan and southwest Ontario.

WHC President Margaret O’Gorman said, “We’re very proud of the conservation being accomplished on local and regional levels, which adds up to a global impact by WHC member companies.”

Award winners are DTE Energy River Rouge Power Plant for Regional Corporate Habitat of the Year and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) US Headquarters and Technology Center for Seedling Corporate Habitat of the Year.

The winners were chosen by a panel of independent judges from the conservation community. The judges’ selections were from among the 20 corporate conservation programs in the region that were certified by WHC in 2015.

Employee volunteers at DTE Energy River Rouge Power Plant, who won the Regional Corporate Habitat of the Year Award, have established and maintain native-plant pollinator gardens, demonstration grasslands, nest boxes, bat houses, and a nesting platform for peregrine falcons. The team also modified two unused ship-mooring structures to create nesting habitat for the state-threatened common tern.

Recently, an additional five acres of lawn were converted to a wooded prairie that will act as a nature area and outdoor classroom. The new nature area supports education for at-risk high school students, graduate students, and science teachers.

DTE Energy’s River Rouge Power Plant has maintained a WHC-certified wildlife habitat program since 2004.

The “Seedling” award is presented to a newer conservation program. FCA US Headquarters and Technology Center’s program was first certified in 2013. That office and research campus includes natural wetlands that host a great blue heron rookery (nesting colony). The team enhances this habitat by managing the water levels and quality and by ensuring the area around the rookery is undisturbed during the nesting season. They have monitored the heron colony since 2010.

In 2013 and 2014, the team installed a series of pollinator gardens using strictly native species. Some of these comprise a Monarch Waystation, including the milkweed plants on which monarch caterpillars depend.

Brian Klatt, director of Michigan Natural Features Inventory, told award winners and nominees, “As one who works full time to protect habitat for native species, I thank you for your very effective voluntary actions. All of the judges were deeply impressed with the breadth and depth of conservation carried out by the award winners and by other nominees.”

Along with Mr. Klatt, other judges were Mary Bohling, Michigan Sea Grant educator; and Cyndi Ross, Friends of the Rouge river restoration program manager.

Also nominated for Regional Corporate Habitat of the Year were DTE Energy Downtown Headquarters and ITC Holdings Corporate Headquarters. GM Orion Assembly and ITC Transmission Right of Way at Sterling State Park were nominated for Seedling Corporate Habitat of the Year.