BYRON, Ill. - Bluebirds and wood ducks and owls - they fly! A history of friendly co-habitation with birds of all feathers along with many other types of wildlife animals has earned Byron Station a special certification.
The Wildlife Habitat Council recently recognized Exelon Nuclear's Byron Generating Station for its commitment to environmental stewardship by awarding it with the Wildlife at Work Certification. The facility was honored for its commendable wildlife habitat management and environmental education programs as well as a commitment to establishing long-term wildlife habitat enhancements that provide undisturbed habitats with food, water, cover and space for animal species living on Exelon property.
"Formed as an unbridled partnership between corporations, communities and conservation organizations, the Wildlife Habitat Council exemplifies the power of collaborative conservation as the foundation of environmental stewardship," said Robert Johnson, WHC president. "Congratulations to Exelon for its commitment and contributions to wildlife habitat enhancement, community outreach and conservation education."
Byron Station's projects are as numerous and varied as the wildlife that co-exist with the employees on the facility's 1,800-acre site. The Byron Environmental Stewardship Team (BEST) and its employee members have installed nest boxes for bluebirds, wood ducks and owls as a way of providing habitat for local birds that were in need of nesting areas. The group also partnered with Ducks Unlimited to install two new wood duck boxes in prime locations.
Local scouts have also partnered with the station on various projects. Among them were aspiring Eagle Scouts Cody and Adam Sarantakos of Boy Scout Troop 99 of Mt. Morris. They constructed and installed additional nest boxes, located the existing boxes, and mapped the location of all nest boxes with GPS. The plant's BEST volunteers monitor the boxes during the nesting season. Over time, the team has seen an increase in the number fledglings from the bluebird nest boxes. The wood duck nest boxes also have been successful, fledging 18 ducklings.
Girl Scout Troop 3566 St. Rita (Rockford) partnered with the plant on a bat house project. Station employees had observed bats roosting under an awning at the main entrance to the power plant for several years. The BEST group wanted to encourage the bats to roost in a different location from this heavily trafficked area. The team installed bat houses in areas with high insect activity, and Troop 3566 constructed two additional bat houses from kits provided by the BEST group. Fewer bats are roosting by the main entrance, and the bat houses show signs of occupancy.
Byron Station has also partnered with the Hoo Haven wildlife rehabilitation center in Durand, Ill., on visits to schools in the area to educate the students on both green energy and taking care of local wildlife. Byron Station recently donated $35,000 to Hoo Haven to assist in the construction of in indoor wildlife aquatic rehabilitation center.
"We are pleased that our efforts to help wildlife near our plant have been a joint effort between station employees and some of the surrounding civic groups," said Byron Site Vice President Tim Tulon. "We are committed to a lasting continuance of healthy wildlife around our plant, much like our dedication to safety as the overriding priority of everything we do at Byron Station."
To date, nine of Exelon Nuclear's 10 sites have been recognized by WHC for programs that minimize impact on the environment and promote local wildlife. Other stations holding the certification include Braidwood Generating Station in Braceville, Ill., Clinton Power Station in Clinton, Ill., LaSalle County Generating Station in Marseilles, Ill., Quad Cities Generating Station in Cordova, Ill., Limerick Generation Station in Pottstown, Pa., Oyster Creek Generating Station in Lacey Township, N.J., Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Delta, Pa. and Three Mile Island Generating Station in Middletown, Pa.
The Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) is a non-profit, 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 45 states, the District of Columbia and 12 other countries. To learn more, visit www.wildlifehc.org.