March 30, 2015 -- The Louisiana Wildlife Federation presented Chevron with the Business Conservationist of the Year Award at Saturday’s banquet honoring recipients of the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards for 2014.
Chevron was recognized for support provided to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for stewardship, public education and awareness specific to the department’s whooping crane reintroduction project.
“The success of this species recovery project is largely dependent on raising public awareness and appreciation of the whooping cranes’ presence once again in our state, and educating our citizens and landowners about the significance of the project,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham at the ceremony in Baton Rouge. “Chevron grant funding to this end is vital in that phase of the project.”
“Chevron is proud to partner with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and the Department and their work to reintroduce whooping cranes to Louisiana,” said Sakari Morrison, Chevron Gulf of Mexico General Manager of Public Affairs. “We recognize the importance of protecting biological diversity through programs like these that protect, sustain a viable habitat, and raise awareness and respect for the endangered species throughout our state and region.”
In total, $400,000 in Chevron grant funding from 2012 through 2014 has provided for satellite transmitter equipment and associated communications costs for tracking the movement of the whooping cranes released from LDWF’s White Lake Wetland Conservation Area in Vermilion Parish. Biologists plot the birds’ movement, habitat selections and adaptive behavior as they adjust to life in the wild.
Grant funds have additionally been utilized for a public outreach media campaign designed to alert the public that the birds are now on the Louisiana landscape, they should be observed from a distance if spotted and LDWF should be notified if anyone witnesses cranes being harmed. Billboards have been produced, as well as television and radio announcements, to deliver these messages.
A third key component funded by the Chevron donation provides lesson plans and classroom tools that have been made available to Louisiana middle and high school teachers through educational workshops. Teachers then deliver endangered species information to students to foster an appreciation for non-game species and awareness of the significance of LDWF’s and its partners’ efforts.
Additional project support was provided through Chevron’s joint promotional effort with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans that included home game wildlife awareness efforts for species found in Louisiana such as the alligator, the black bear and the whooping crane; and inclusion in the George Rodrigue Foundation for the Arts 2014 “Student Art Competition” that featured the pelican, the whooping crane, the black bear and the bald cypress tree as images students could select as subjects for their artwork entries.
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation coordinated receipt and dispersal of grant funds for stewardship, public outreach and educational purposes.
The whooping crane, a very vulnerable species, was found in south Louisiana until their demise during the late 1800s and early 1900s when little conservation ethic was in existence and conversion of prairies and marsh lands to agriculture acreage became a trend. Since 2011, LDWF has soft released 64 isolation-reared, juvenile cranes provided by the US Geological Survey Research Center in Patuxent, Md., into rural southwest Louisiana, and 40 survive today. Nesting pairs within that experimental population have produced the first eggs in the wild in over 70 years, but no fledglings have resulted as yet.
The recovery plan goal is for Louisiana to reach a subpopulation of 25-30 productive pairs, which translates to about 130 cranes in Louisiana. To learn more about Louisiana’s whooping crane population, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/information . To contribute to the whooping crane project or any LDWF initiative, go to the LWFF website at http://lawff.org .
For more information, contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
*Photo caption -- (left to right) LDWF Secretary Robert Barham, Chevron Gulf of Mexico General Manager of Public Affairs Sakari Morrison, Chevron Gulf of Mexico Asset Development General Manager Marcia Houghton and LWF President Barney Callahan.