PPG Industries, Inc. Receives International Habitat Conservation Award
November 27, 2006 - Under the leadership of William G. Lynch, Senior Remediation Project Manager, employees at PPG Industries, Inc.’s Barberton Plant received international recognition for their contributions to wildlife habitat conservation at the Wildlife Habitat Council’s (WHC) 18th Annual Symposium, Connecting People & Nature. PPG demonstrates its commitment to environmental stewardship and increasing native biodiversity by achieving habitat recertification at the Barberton Plant.
“At the Wildlife Habitat Council, we believe it is vital to improve approaches to the environment if our landscapes are to remain sustainable for future generations. As our organization moves forward into the global arena, we must involve more people in local initiatives to enhance open spaces,” said Robert Johnson, WHC President. “Developing this strong sense of place is the key to better connecting people to nature and ultimately the key to protecting nature. WHC members are leading the way and opening the doors to corporate habitats to educate and involve entire communities. Congratulations to PPG for their exceptional efforts to responsibly manage our natural world.”
The 2,450-acre Barberton Plant, located in northeast Ohio, formerly supported a variety of uses including production and shipping, sand, salt and limestone mining, cement production, water retention in reservoirs and waste lime disposal. The site is bisected by the Tuscarawas River and contains a mosaic of habitats including old fields, upland forest, river floodplain forest and wetlands. These diverse habitats provide the background for the habitat enhancement efforts performed at the site. Initially, the areas used for lime disposal, referred to as lime lakes, attracted much of the enhancement program’s focus. However, efforts were expanded considerably to include other portions of the site.
Prior to beginning the wildlife habitat enhancement program, an experimental mixture of lime from the lime lakes and sewage sludge resulted in an artificial, gradable soil that supports diverse plant life. Lime Lake 4 became the demonstration area for a project using this mixture, which subsequently developed a diverse native plant community with the assistance of a seeding project team. PPG also completed the reclamation of 113-acre Lime Lake 5 and the contouring for 250-acre Lime Lake 6.
Other projects include the construction of brush piles, construction of stormwater sedimentation basins, maintenance of food plots and placement of artificial nesting sites for birds. A large number of bird species are targeted in the nesting structure program and include bluebird, tree swallow, purple martin, American kestrel, wood duck, heron and most recently, osprey. Structures range from nest boxes for cavity nesters, several posts and platforms for hawk perches and artificial towers for blue heron and osprey. Volunteers continue to carefully monitor the bird populations. Planting projects of trees, shrubs and wildflowers are also ongoing. Native prairie grasses and food plots were planted to provide valuable nesting and foraging habitat for pheasants and other ground nesting birds.
The wildlife team also works to promote community involvement and conservation partnerships. Significant research with Penn State University Professor Ken Tamminga intends to successfully establish warm-season grasses as the final cover on areas of the lime lakes. The results helped to develop 45 acres for a full scale planting in 2006. The Barberton site also partners with the Greater Akron Audubon Society and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for bird surveys and osprey reintroduction efforts. In 2005, a 1.5 -mile segment of the Summit County MetroParks Canal Towpath bike and hike trail on-site was opened to the public and another 0.75 mile of trails was complete in 2006. The remediation efforts at the Barberton Plant are a great success so far, and the site continues to work towards a fully restored wildlife habitat.
The Barberton Plant was one of 175 sites recognized at the 2006 Symposium for creating a habitat program. Over 50 Corporate Lands for LearningSM programs now reach thousands of learners from schools and scout groups to master gardeners and university researchers. Since 1990, WHC has certified 408 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 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. More than 2.4 million acres in 48 states, Puerto Rico and 16 other countries are managed for wildlife through WHC-assisted projects.