Employees at The Dow Chemical Company’s The Dow Wetlands Preserve received international recognition for their contributions to wildlife habitat conservation at the Wildlife Habitat Council’s (WHC) 21st Annual Symposium, Evergreen: A Celebration of Conservation in a Changing World. Dow demonstrates its commitment to environmental stewardship and increasing native biodiversity by achieving Wildlife at WorkSM and Corporate Lands for LearningSM (CLL) recertification at the The Dow Wetlands Preserve.
The employees, volunteers and partners at The Dow Wetlands Preserve further distinguished themselves by winning WHC’s prestigious Corporate Lands for Learning of the Year award, which recognizes a site for outstanding environmental education, stewardship and voluntary efforts.
“The Wildlife Habitat Council believes that collaboration among all stakeholder groups is critical to addressing the complex issues facing the sustainability of the planet,” said WHC President Robert Johnson. “WHC members take a leading role in connecting community stakeholders through wildlife habitat enhancement, community outreach and conservation education. Congratulations to Dow for their commitment to a healthy natural world and connected communities.”
The 471-acre Dow Wetlands Preserve is located between Pittsburg and Antioch. The site contains diverse habitat types, including estuarine tidal marsh, emergent marsh, seasonal wet meadows, savannah, scrub shrub and forested fringe. The site serves as a nature preserve and environmental buffer zone, and 220 acres are actively managed for wildlife.
The wildlife team works to improve the tidal wetland habitat by controlling invasive hyacinth. A float was installed in 2008 to restrict boat access that could adversely affect wildlife. Invasive species pose a problem in the seasonal wetland pond. The wildlife team mows the area to decrease invasive pepper weed and provide room for native pickle weed to grow. Protective fencing was erected around native trees planted in the riparian forest to ensure they will survive predation by beavers, which graze on the bark and continue to provide forest habitat.
The wildlife team monitors bird populations by providing a census form to qualified birders visiting the site. This census data is maintained in a database, providing long-term data about bird populations. Bird experts also visit the site two to five times a year to monitor the populations. A number of nest boxes are located on site for bluebirds, wood ducks and kestrels. These nest boxes, along with raptor perches and floating platforms, enhance the existing habitat for a variety of birds.
An impressive tidal wetland habitat at The Dow Wetlands Preserve is home to a thriving CLL program that provides learning opportunities for hundreds of students and adults from Contra Costa and surrounding counties. The program was first certified in 2000, and Dow staffers have since seen their efforts grow to cater to a wider variety of audiences, including third through twelfth graders in Antioch and Pittsburg, the University of California Berkeley and Los Medanos College, plus local teachers, Eagle Scouts and residents wishing to use the open site, Dow employees, and other local groups and associations.
The Wetlands Environmental Team regularly sponsors teacher-training opportunities. These include trainings at various science academies and many free curricula developed in coordination with the Contra Costa Department of Education, teachers, the Lindsay Wildlife Museum and Project Wild Aquatic staff. Watershed education is the main focus of on-site education, and the site works with high school and college-age students to design and implement research projects at the preserve. This in turn aids the wildlife team in its habitat enhancement efforts.
Many programs at The Dow Wetlands Preserve include hikes to discover the habitat as well as hands-on discovery of the organisms that live there. Further activities include writing in a field journal and drawing pictures. These constructivist-based learning experiences allow children to learn about science and nature by experiencing it with pre- and post-visit activities, strengthening the standards-based educational experience. Teacher surveys distributed after each program supply company employees with valuable information on the effectiveness of the program and how it supports the state’s curriculum standards.
The Dow Wetlands Preserve was one of 238 sites recognized at the 2009 Symposium for creating a Wildlife at Work program. In addition, 47 CLL programs were recognized, reaching thousands of learners from schools and scout groups to master gardeners and university researchers. Since 1990, WHC has certified 560 Wildlife at Work and 113 CLL programs worldwide. The certification program recognizes outstanding wildlife habitat management and environmental education efforts at corporate sites, and offers third-party validation of the benefits of such programs. Certification requirements are strict and require that sites apply for periodic renewal.
The Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) is a nonprofit, non-lobbying organization dedicated to increasing the quality and amount of wildlife habitat on corporate, private and public lands. WHC devotes its resources to building partnerships with corporations and conservation groups to create solutions that balance the demands of economic growth with the requirements of a healthy, biodiverse and sustainable environment. WHC-assisted wildlife habitat and conservation education programs are found in 48 states, the District of Columbia and nine other countries. To learn more, visit www.wildlifehc.org.