CADILLAC, Mich., Dec. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Energy has been recognized for protecting endangered species and other wildlife at its 11 hydro generating facilities on the Au Sable, Manistee and Muskegon rivers.
The Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) awarded the maximum three-year Wildlife at Work recertification to the company for its wildlife enhancement projects.
Consumers Energy's Tippy Dam, which serves as the only-known bat hibernaculum in the Lower Peninsula and one of the largest in Michigan, received runner-up honors for the WHC Bat Conservation Award. The national award recognizes projects that actively manage bat habitat through restoration or protection projects that include public outreach and educational opportunities.
During the recertification process, WHC biologists rated Consumers Energy's facilities and employee efforts as exceptional.
"There are more than 12,000 acres associated with our hydro dams, so we have significant potential to enhance natural resources along major Michigan rivers. Consumers Energy takes pride in being responsible environmental stewards as part of our Promise to Michigan," said Rich Castle, Consumers Energy's natural resource administrator for hydro operations. "We're very appreciative of the recognition provided by the WHC recertification of our wildlife management efforts."
Federally-endangered wildlife species benefitting from the Consumers Energy projects are the Karner Blue butterfly, being managed on Muskegon River hydro properties, and the Indiana bat, which finds ideal hibernation habitat in a spillway chamber at Tippy Dam on the Manistee River.
Other wildlife being helped by the projects recognized by the Wildlife at Work program include bluebirds, waterfowl, monarch butterflies, raptors and the eastern pipistelle, a bat species of special interest in Michigan.
"We work cooperatively with others interested in conservation to achieve a common goal of implementing projects that enhance wildlife populations. These groups include Boy Scouts, resource agencies and conservation advocates," said Castle. "We recognize and thank these organizations for their vital role in helping wildlife thrive near our hydro generating properties."
Specific Consumers Energy projects that contributed to the WHC recertification:
- Bluebird Nest Box Construction project on the Au Sable River Hydroelectric properties. Oscoda Boy Scouts built 12 nest boxes to replace damaged boxes at Mio, Alcona, Loud, Five Channels, Cooke and Foote dams. Au Sable Hydro employees maintain and monitor 68 bluebird boxes, 95 wood duck boxes and six American kestrel boxes.
- Bat Box Construction project on Au Sable River Hydroelectric properties. Hale Cub Scouts constructed 38 bat boxes for Mio, Hardy and Hodenpyl dams.
- Garlic Mustard Management project near Foote Dam. Consumers Energy teamed with the US Forest Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to continue the implementation of a 4 to 6 year plan with a goal to eliminate the invasive species from an infested area found adjacent to Huron National Forest through targeted herbicide applications and hand removal, so native plant species may provide valuable wildlife habitat.
- "River Care Kids" program, developed in conjunction with Conservation Resource Alliance. Elementary students learned about the wildlife benefits associated with the Manistee River Hydro projects with an emphasis on the bat hibernaculum in the Tippy Dam spillway. The students also participated in a river cleanup, removing fishing line and other items that could be detrimental to waterfowl, bald eagles and osprey, which are all active in the habitat.
- Wood Duck Nest Box Construction project on Manistee River Hydroelectric properties. Wellston Boy Scouts built 13 nest boxes to replace damaged boxes. Manistee Hydro employees maintain and monitor 30 bluebird boxes, 30 wood duck boxes and four American kestrel boxes.
- Karner Blue Butterfly Management Plan on Muskegon River Hydroelectric properties. Consumers Energy updated its plan to sustain a population of the federally-endangered Karner Blue butterfly. Building on experience, the utility's plan calls for increasing the seeding of wild blue lupine, a critical plant in the life cycle of the endangered butterfly.
- Monarch Butterfly Habitat Improvement project on Au Sable, Manistee and Muskegon river hydroelectric properties. The 2013 project converts transmission rights-of-way near Cooke, Hodenpyl and Rogers dams to habitat for monarch butterflies, which has been in population decline, by planting milkweed and warm season grasses, which are also vital to other types of butterflies and pollinating insects in a landscape dominated by forests.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
Photos on this release are available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/consumersenergy
SOURCE Consumers Energy