Consumers Energy works closely with state and federal agencies, as well as conservation groups such as the Wildlife Habitat Council, to ensure our lands benefit local and migratory wildlife.
Since 1997, the Company has been part of a national conservation effort aimed at bringing trumpeter swans back from the brink of extinction. Over the years, we have collaborated with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service and Michigan State University’s Kellogg Sanctuary in releasing 26 young adult trumpeter swans into the extensive wetlands behind several of our hydroelectric plants. These reintroductions have led to self-sustaining populations of trumpeter swans in northeast Michigan. Below our dams, the Au Sable River provides ice-free, high-quality winter habitats for an annual wintering population of 218 trumpeter swans, one of the largest groups in the continental United States.
Management of our hydroelectric plant lands also conforms with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan as well as the Northern States Bald Eagle Recovery Plan. Since these lands along northern Michigan’s rivers are largely undeveloped, they provide excellent eagle nesting habitats, while the hydroelectric impoundments provide healthy populations of fish with low concentrations of environmental contaminants for eagles. Furthermore, we cooperate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at our Karn, Weadock and Whiting plants to provide nesting platforms for eagles due to a scarcity of suitable nesting trees in those areas.
When eagles declined nationwide due to pesticide and PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) pollution, they survived in our lands and formed a core population that made recovery possible. We continue to manage these hydroelectric lands to protect bald eagles and the fish populations that sustain them.
Our land management programs also include wetlands protection and monitoring, along with an extensive nest box programs for cavity nesting birds such as wood duck, bluebirds, purple martins, tree swallows, and kestrels. In particular, our hydroelectric project lands along the Au Sable, Manistee, and Muskegon Rivers are also listed as wildlife viewing sites in Michigan’s Watchable Wildlife Program. Michigan’s program, which is part of the larger nationwide Watchable Wildlife program, provides a guide for outstanding areas for viewing wildlife in the state.
A lesser known fact is that more than 20,000 bats, including brown, eastern pipistrelle, northern and as many as 60 endangered Indiana bats, hibernate each year inside the spillway of Tippy Dam. During a past spillway renovation, we worked with bat experts and state and federal wildlife agencies to ensure those changes would not affect the temperature and humidity of this habitat for the hibernating bats. We continue to collaborate with bat experts to carefully monitor the hibernating bats and the microclimate inside the spillway for the protection of these species.
In summary, our species protection initiatives have earned awards from the Michigan Audubon Society and the Wildlife Habitat Council, and we look forward to continuing these important initiatives in the future.
Updated October 2013