Home > Uncategorized > REMC Launches Raptor Enrichment Program – A POWERFUL Partnership

REMC Launches Raptor Enrichment Program – A POWERFUL Partnership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

South Central Indiana REMC

April 1, 2011

Contact: Jean van Biezen, REMC Communication Manager,

Phone:   (765) 342-3344

FAX:   (765) 342-1335

Email: jeanvb@sciremc.com

Martinsville ─ Soaring Eagles, screeching Owls, and gliding Hawks frequent the country sides and service areas of South Central Indiana REMC. The nesting and hunting habits of these raptors may put them in danger of electrocution around power lines and energized equipment. This is a concern for the electric cooperative, neighbors, and the community.

SCI REMC announced today their new Raptor Enrichment Program that will help protect these species by providing nesting platforms, boxes and perches for the most common species in the REMC service area including; Eastern Screech, Great Horned, Barred and Barn Owls; Northern (Marsh Hawk) Harrier, Bald Eagle, and Red-Tailed Hawk; American Kestrel, Cooper’s and Red–shouldered Hawks. “This program is an enhancement to our existing Energy for Wildlife program,” stated Larry Terrell, Manager of the Vegetation Management Department for SCI REMC. “We were the first cooperative and the second utility in the nation to start an Energy for Wildlife Program certified through the National Wild Turkey Federation.” SCI REMC was presented the first inaugural Energy for Wildlife Achievement Award in 2006 by the Wild Turkey Federation, of which the cooperative is a member. To date, SCI REMC has installed 312 blue bird boxes, 66 bat boxes, 79 wildlife food plots, and has put down literally tons of a grass seed/ clover mixture in its power line Rights of Ways each year. The REMC has also been active for many years with a   homeowner tree replacement program. While several electric utilities in other states have similar programs, South Central Indiana REMC is believed to be the only electric utility in Indiana with such a pro-active raptor enhancement program.

“It’s hard for property owners and private organizations to provide perches, nesting platforms and boxes for hawks and owls because of the height requirements for these raptors” stated Terrell. “In addition, SCI has to cut down ‘danger hollow trees’ to protect the power lines that are typically used as raptor habitat. With the resources of the utility, recycled electric utility poles and cross arms, can be used to install artificial habitats that are required and by being pro-active, the raptor species are protected so they will flourish and steer away from our power lines and energized equipment.”

SCI is partnering with local and state organizations to target areas of habitat enhancement where these birds would best benefit. We understand our program can do as much harm as benefit if habitat stands and boxes are placed in the wrong locations. “Research, education and training are at the forefront of the Raptor Enrichment Program,” stated Phil Mattison, VP of Operations for SCI REMC.  “The utility is teaming up with the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife, as well as partnering with Return to the Wild, a local organization in Nashville that is assisting the REMC by providing additional education and guidance on raptors and raptor habitat.” Laura Edmunds of Return to the Wild, exclaimed “We were really impressed by the SCI REMC program. Their plan is incredibly well researched, and we are happy to partner with them in this project.”

Return to the Wild, which is a non-profit, 501 (C-3) organization, began in 1994 and was incorporated in 2000. They moved to their current location in Nashville in 2004. They are funded through private donations and fundraising, and do incredible work in raptor recovery and release. To make a donation or to schedule a tour of the facility, call 812-988-8990.

Another partner in the project is Joni James of Heron Watch Nature Programs.  Joni is a retired teacher with 30 years of experience in education and nature study.  Joni is a naturalist, environmental educator, bird watcher, nature photographer and writer. She is also a long time participant of the Earth Day programs that REMC co-partners in and presents to school children every year.  She, herself, provides Nature Education Programs for grades 2- adult.  For more information about the programs that she offers, she can be contacted at jonijame@scican.net or 765-318-7351.

Employees of South Central Indiana REMC had the opportunity to meet Mowgli, Oberon and Patrick, some of the birds from Return to the Wild for education purposes, at the Raptor Enrichment Program Kick-off earlier this month. Patti Reynolds, president of Return to the Wild, gave a presentation about the birds of prey and answered questions from the group. The employees were also presented with the opportunity to assist the program by building some of the boxes that could be used in the project.

The first project will be in conjunction with Bradford Woods- Indiana University, on Earth Day, April 22nd. John E. Koenig, PhD Executive Director and Associate Professor of Bradford Woods, exclaimed “I think it is a really outstanding program that will augment our Environmental Education curriculum, and bring a great deal of pleasure, experience, and science to those who participate in our environmental education program and services. We have some nesting eagles but this will augment what we already have. We are so excited about it, and thankful to REMC for making this opportunity available to us and to our current and future clients of Bradford Woods.”

A media day at Bradford Woods is being planned for April 22nd, by the cooperative so the media can see first-hand the value of the Raptor Enrichment Program.

“Through powerful partnerships, community support, and the actions of South Central Indiana REMC this endeavor will be a relatively inexpensive, pro-active approach to the  Energy for Wildlife program and bring good will to the community,” said Mattison. “We welcome interested groups or organizations to contact Larry Terrell at 800-264-7362 or Larryt@sciremc.com for more information.”

SCI REMC is the largest member owned cooperative distribution facility in Indiana and serves more than 33,000 members in Morgan, Monroe, Owen, Brown and parts of Putnam, Clay and Johnson Counties.

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