As one of Michigan’s largest landowners, we know caring for the state’s water, wetlands and wildlife is a serious responsibility.
Our environmental roots run deep, running back early into the 20th century when Consumers Power hired teams of tree planters to help reforest the watersheds that powered the hydroelectric dams of the fledgling power company. The first Consumers forest plantation was established in 1924; more than 2 million trees were planted in the reforestation effort. The Company hired professional foresters to manage its forest lands, and they continue to manage Company forest lands to this day.
Wildlife management plans were developed in the late 1980’s for the undeveloped lands on the Company’s coal plant properties and at the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant; wildlife and forestry management plans, as well as management plans for threatened or endangered species were also being developed in the early 1990’s for eleven hydroelectric plants along the Au Sable, Manistee, and Muskegon rivers in northern Michigan as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing process. Beginning in the mid 1990’s, we began to certify these management plans with the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC), a national environmental organization based in the Washington D.C. area that promotes wildlife habitat management and environmental education on lands owned by private businesses. Consumers Energy was the first large energy utility to join WHC. Today, all of these properties continue to be managed for wildlife and are periodically inspected by WHC to assure they continue to meet WHC certification criteria.
Our wildlife management plans cover more than 16,000 acres of forest, wetlands and river lands, fostering habitats for threatened, endangered or “of concern” species. Our employees work with environmental groups, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Some of our biggest achievements include:
- The successful reintroduction of native trumpeter swans near our hydroelectric generating plants along the Au Sable River. Since 1997, the Company has been part of a national conservation effort aimed at bringing these graceful birds, the world’s largest waterfowl, back from the brink of extinction. We introduced fourteen young adult trumpeter swans (hatched from eggs gathered by biologists in Alaska) into the reservoirs behind Alcona, Loud, Cooke and Foote dams. Twelve additional trumpeter swans were reintroduced to the Company’s hydroelectric generating plants on the Manistee River. In February of 2013, the Au Sable Valley Audubon Society counted 218 trumpeter swans wintering in open water below the dams on the Au Sable River. Our work with the trumpeter swans, named for their distinctive trumpet-like call, was one reason the Company earned its second Environmental Business Award from the Michigan Audubon Society in 2007.
- Raising and releasing, in 1995, two Peregrine falcons from a “hacking” box on the Campbell plant’s roof as part of a nationwide program to recover this species that was once endangered and is still listed as threatened in Michigan. The Peregrine falcon’s native nesting sites were on cliffs. Tall power plant buildings and stacks provide a similar nesting environment and one that provides protection from the Peregrine falcon’s chief predator, the Great Horned Owl. The program has been very successful; annually, Peregrine falcons have successfully nested at the Campbell plant since shortly after the original release in 1995. The Peregrines have also nested annually at a nesting structure on the BC Cobb plant in Muskegon since 2002. Together, the reproduction at these sites has given a great boost to the Peregrine falcon population around the Great Lakes.
- The management of 49 acres of unique coastal wetlands to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge as part of a cooperative management agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This “Lady of the Lakes” property is located on Lake Erie just north of our Whiting plant near Monroe. Featuring 2,400 feet of frontage on the lake’s western shore, the land is considered an important surviving segment of natural coastal habitat, partly because it’s situated at the intersection of the Atlantic and Mississippi migratory flyways for waterfowl. In addition to donating the land, the Whiting plant holds an annual Lake Erie beach cleanup and has worked since the 1970s to protect and expand beds of rare lotus flowers that grow near the shore. Because of efforts like these, the Whiting generating plant is the only facility in Michigan that has been awarded the Neighborhood Environmental Partners Program Gold Award every year since the program began in 2004. The award recognizes companies for outstanding envionmental outreach.
- The creation and continuation of Company programs to enhance and preserve habitats and protect a wide range of wildlife, such as: common loons, bluebirds, wood ducks, osprey and kestrel; the endangered Karner blue butterfly and Indiana bats; and federally-protected bald eagles.
- The management of 100-acres of sand dunes at Campbell under The Nature Conservancy’s Registry Program, while another 175 acres comprise a biological field station that’s available for environmental education. The site’s nature trails and diverse wetlands make it a perfect outdoor educational experience for students and community members.
- The management of the lands that support our hydroelectric facilities. We own more than 30,000 acres of land and water throughout these sites, 10 of the 13 hydroelectric plants are located in the Huron-Manistee National Forest with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved land management plans that were written to conform with the Huron-Manistee Land and Resource Management Plan.
Updated October 2013