Alcoa continued its support of the Wabash Rivers Initiative by assisting The Nature Conservancy at a volunteer workday this past Saturday in southwestern Indiana. Alcoa employees from its Warrick Operations helped plant giant cane as part of a bottomland forest restoration along the Wabash River, a river central to Indiana’s economy and well-being. Alcoa also surprised staff from the Conservancy with a $10,000 check to help with the costs and maintaining the cane.
A portion of this restoration work is made possible through significant funding from the Alcoa Foundation. A recent $100,000 Alcoa Foundation grant will be utilized to implement the Conservancy’s science-based management strategies along the Wabash River, reforest hundreds of acres in the river basin near Alcoa facilities, and restore 200 acres of wetlands in the Alcoa Foundation project area from Lafayette to the Wabash’s confluence with the Ohio River.
The Wabash has been called Indiana’s River because it’s central to Indiana’s economy and well-being. Nearly 700,000 Hoosiers live within 15 miles of the Wabash River. The Nature Conservancy’s work on the Wabash River recently stimulated a $100,000 donation from the Alcoa Foundation. This gift is a continuation of the Alcoa Foundation’s commitment to the Wabash River.
In 2008, a $200,000 donation from the Alcoa Foundation enabled the Conservancy to complete an aquatic biodiversity assessment of the Wabash River in order to develop an understanding of the entire Wabash River basin. The assessment has led directly to the creation of the Wabash River Initiative program which is a framework for conservation action on Indiana’s river. The assessment has provided a basis for action on the Wabash River by many of the Conservancy’s partners, both government agencies as well as many not-for-profit groups interested in improving the quality of the Wabash.
“The Nature Conservancy’s mission for the Wabash River is to protect the rich diversity of life that depends upon the river for existence,” said Larry Clemens, director of conservation programs for the Conservancy’s Indiana Chapter. “And by improving water quality, we also will enhance the quality of life for Hoosiers dependent upon the Wabash River for water, food, and recreation.”
“The Wabash is a great example of how the Conservancy leverage its work to bring in partners who can help us achieve far more than we ever could by doing this alone,” said Clemens.
In southwestern Indiana, the Conservancy’s work in the Wabash River watershed has included planting giant cane as part of a bottomland forest restoration of agricultural fields on Conservancy lands at the confluence of the Ohio and Wabash Rivers. Canebrakes were once extensive in this area, but are now considered endangered. Canebrakes harbor several animal, bird and insect species, including Swainson’s Warbler, swamp rabbit and golden mouse.
This past Saturday, Alcoa volunteers gathered at a Conservancy property to help with cane plantings in the area. This activity was one of more than 20 events that employees from Alcoa Warrick Operations are doing during the corporation’s Worldwide Month of Service. During October, half of Alcoa’s global workforce will participate in more than 650 community service projects across 24 countries.
"This is our way of giving back to the community and supporting the community," said Royce Haws, Alcoa location manager for primary metals. "We're very proud of what we do."
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.