Other Editorials

For The Birds (Really)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Something to be proud of:

From www.carbuyersnotebook.com
GM Lansing Delta Township is Wildlife Habitat Council's "Rookie of the Year"
Detroit-Hamtramck also newly certified, increasing GM's total WHC certified sites to 10

DETROIT -- General Motors Lansing Delta Township Assembly Center has been recognized by the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) as its Rookie of the Year for creating an exemplary new wildlife habitat program at a corporate site. WHCs prestigious International Conservation Awards recognize voluntary activities by companies who demonstrate excellence in the areas of wildlife habitat enhancement and restoration. GMs Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center also has been certified by WHC.

These newly certified programs bring the total of GM certified programs to 10 in the U.S. and Canada, representing 870 acres. WHCs Corporate Wildlife Habitat Certification/International Accreditation Program recognizes outstanding wildlife habitat management and education efforts at corporate sites.

 Lansing Delta Township is our newest assembly plant, said Elizabeth Lowery, GM vice president, Environment and Energy. Our earliest plans for the facility included a goal to design and build the worlds most environmentally advanced auto manufacturing plant. Were very pleased that our efforts to enhance the natural setting, as well as provide educational and recreational opportunities for the community, met the rigorous standards of the Wildlife Habitat Council.

Although both sites are part of a corporate-wide commitment to use native plants on company grounds to provide habitat for wildlife, each facility took a different approach.

The Lansing Delta Township ( Mich.) plant was built on a greenfield site and was certified earlier this year at the gold level by the U.S. Green Building Council for its superior energy and environmental design and construction. That attention to environmental detail also extends to the sites grounds. 75 acres of the undeveloped site was enhanced to preserve existing plants and wildlife and to provide educational opportunities for the community.

The Detroit-Hamtramck ( Mich.) plant, built in the 1980s in the heart of a long-developed central city, replaced a 16.5-acre lawn with wildflowers and grasses to provide habitat for migratory birds, including the plants thriving pheasant population.

In making the announcement, Robert Johnson, president, Wildlife Habitat Council said: With its latest certifications, General Motors proves that both older facilities and brand new ones can create sustainable landscapes that conserve natural ecosystems. 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. Developing this strong sense of place is the key to better connecting people to nature and ultimately the key to protecting nature.

Features of the Lansing Delta Township program include:

* A trail network throughout the 75-acre habitat that provides safe access for visitors to observe without disrupting the plants or animals.
* Wildlife curriculum development through partnerships with local schools and organizations that include on-site visits and classroom activities.
* Removal of invasive, non-native plant species.
* Addition of structures in ponds, wetland areas and trees to provide resting and nesting areas for birds, water fowl, fish and aquatic species.
* Work is underway to plant 40 acres with trees, shrubs and prairie plantings to provide habitat and shelter for pheasants and other animals.

At the Detroit-Hamtramck site, the primary activity was the replacement of a large section of lawn with native grasses and wildflowers, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service and Pheasants Forever.

* 11 species of warm season grasses and wildflowers were planted to provide suitable habitat for migratory birds that prefer grassland habitat. The plant site, although located in a long-developed area of the city, already had an existing pheasant population.
* Monarch butterflies, bees, and a variety of birds  including ring-necked pheasant, barn swallow, American kestrel, red-tailed hawk and red-winged blackbird  have been observed.

At General Motors, we are constantly taking actions to reduce the impact of our facilities and processes on the environment, said Ray Tessier, group director, Environmental Services. Achieving that goal in an organization as large and as complex as ours requires initiative and energy at a local level. We are proud of our newly certified sites for their success in taking a broad corporate goal and making it relevant to the needs of the wildlife and the people in their community.

General Motors has a total of 870 acres of land in the United States and Canada certified by the WHC. In addition to the two newly certified sites, WHC-certified GM sites include GM headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit; Warren, Mich.; Spring Hill, Tenn.; Bedford, Ind.; Lordstown, Ohio; Oshawa, Ontario; and two in Saginaw, Mich.