• Pine Creek Watershed selected as 2009 "Water to Watch"
WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 30, 2009 -- A volunteer initiative of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Company, a division of Chardon, Ohio-based Fairmount Minerals Ltd., is being honored by the National Fish Habit Plan for efforts to restore the Pine Creek Watershed near the company's mine site in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin.
Pine Creek has been named to the Action Plan's 2009 10 "Waters to Watch" list, a collection of rivers, streams, lakes, watershed systems and shores that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore or enhance their current condition. These waters represent a snapshot of current conservation efforts that the Action Plan is undertaking to provide cleaner and healthier habitats for the many fish and wildlife species and people who call these areas home.
More than a century of past agricultural and logging activities contributed significant sediment loads to Pine Creek, causing the Mississippi River tributary to deteriorate into a muddy, slow-moving stream, negatively impacting its population of native brook trout. Through the collaboration of Fairmount Minerals, Trout Unlimited, the West Wisconsin Land Trust and other organizations, Pine Creek has been transformed into a clear fast-moving stream with low grassy banks and improved trout habitat.
"We are proud of our Wisconsin Family Members and their volunteer efforts for Pine Creek Watershed Restoration," said Chuck Fowler, Fairmount Minerals president and CEO. "Giving our Time, Talents, and Treasures is our way of serving our communities."
Fowler noted that members at the company's headquarters in Chardon, Ohio, are now involved in a similar watershed rehabilitation for Shadybrook Creek, a tributary of the Chagrin River. Fairmount Minerals members earlier participated in an effort to restore another section of the Chagrin where it meets the Cuyahoga River. Other volunteer projects include the construction of parks and playgrounds, food drives, building floats for community parades, tree planting and an assortment of other activities, including a company-wide Day of Caring during which members that donated 400 hours of service to the non-profit community.
Fairmount Minerals has 14 company-wide sustainability teams focused on Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmentally Responsible Products and Processes, Safety, Health and Wellness, Eco-Efficiency, Business Innovation, Clean Water and other initiatives important to Fairmount Minerals, stakeholders and its contributions to the world's social, economic and environmental needs.
Some key goals for 2009 include:
• Provide the financial support, materials and technical assistance to manufacture and distribute 2,009 Aqua Clara Water Purification filters to Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru that will prevent water-borne diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery and parasitic infections.
• Implement the Fairmount Minerals children's wellness program through a pilot program in Illinois
• Investigate feasibility and create plan for a wind turbine project
• Reduce Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) by 2.5% in 2009 based on 2006 data on a per unit basis by facility
• Introduction of three new sustainable manufacturing processes.
The Pine Creek project initially focused on the repair of 3,600 feet of stream bank and nearby riparian terrain; as well as design and placement of in-stream structures to improve depth, water velocity, overhead cover and bottom substrate. These changes created significantly better water conditions for trout and their food species, including insects, crustaceans, and amphibians. While volunteer turnout for work sessions was strong, the increasingly ambitious scale of the project created a need for significantly more help.
"We saw an opportunity to give back to our community through volunteerism," said Tim Stauffer, Regional Manager of Fairmount Minerals. "As a company, Fairmount Minerals recognizes habitat restoration as an important part of the company's commitment to sustainable development. We ask all of our employees to contribute 40 hours of paid volunteer time each year within the community. With the Pine Creek project, we could literally see the results of those hours improving our natural environment."
Stauffer explained that Fairmount employees became aggressively involved with the stream bank restoration work, which has most recently included the contributions of dozens of employees in the harvesting of native prairie seeds from nearby Maiden Rock Bluff preserve to seed the Pine Creek area.
"Fairmount Minerals made a huge contribution towards reaching our project goals," said Greg Dietl, President of western Wisconsin Kiap-TU-Wish Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Project Lead. "We would not have completed nearly the amount of bank restoration, seeding and mulching without them. Our organizations are working together to provide outstanding brook trout fishing for generations to come."
Project objectives include the restoration of 3,600 feet of stream bank, to reduce bank erosion by at least 50% or more of preexisting conditions, increase coarse substrate by 50%, improve biodiversity, increase brook trout numbers by 40% and increase the size of fish.
Funding for the project has come from a variety of sources, including Trout Unlimited's Embrace-a-Stream program, federal funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wisconsin Trout Stamp Project, and major donations from western Wisconsin's Kiap-TU-Wish chapter of Trout Unlimited, The Twin Cities (MN) Chapter of Trout Unlimited, The Ojibleau Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and a local Patagonia store.
The Washington, D.C.-based National Fish Habitat Action Plan is the most comprehensive effort ever attempted to treat the causes of aquatic habitat decline and fix the nation's most pressing fisheries problems. Its 10 "Waters to Watch" Initiative was first unveiled in 2007 through its Fish Habitat Partnerships. Since 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided $5.8 million to support 136 on-the-ground projects in 35 states, leveraging $15.1 million in partner match, to address the priorities of the Fish Habitat Partnerships, along with funding from several other State and Federal Agencies and NGO's.
"Our approach -- teaming federal, state and local partners -- is helping to bring these waters back to life in most casesin a faster, more strategic way," said Kelly Hepler, Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. "By watching these 10 models of our nation's aquatic conservation efforts, we can see real progress in treating the causes of fish habitat decline, not just the symptoms. These specific projects display on the ground work that can be held high as a vision of what quality habitat should be, which affects all people throughout the United States."
A leading producer of industrial sand, Fairmount's products are used in metal casting, water filtration, glass production, golf and sports turf, oil and gas production, and commercial floor coatings.