Consumers Energy: Saving Endangered Peregrine Falcons

Aug 24, 2018 9:40 AM ET

Consumers Energy’s historic J.R. Whiting Plant retired two years ago and is slated for demolition. But the company continues to help a pair of peregrine falcons who’ve called the site home for more than a decade.

We recently completed construction of a 65-foot tower for Harold and Ludwig, the male and female, respectively, seeking out a nesting site in their annual migratory journey to Michigan.

The project continues the legacy of strong environmental stewardship that was a source of pride for Whiting employees.

“It feels good to continue to try to do the right thing by these birds,” said Frank Rand, a field environmental coordinator who worked about 18 years at Whiting before the coal-fired plant was retired in April 2016.

Peregrine falcons, an endangered bird species in Michigan, search for high nesting sites, sometimes as tall as 2,000 feet. The quest for lofty perches makes power plants attractive and Harold and Ludwig became accustomed to nesting on the steel beams of Whiting, located in Luna Pier near Monroe.

Their traditional site is no longer available because the plant, which began operating in 1952, is being dismantled, demolished in preparation for potential redevelopment.

After a search for alternatives came up empty, Consumers Energy worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Michigan Department of Natural Resources to build the new tower just north of the former plant, near a marshy, wetland area close to Lake Erie.

The project is part of Consumers Energy’s commitment to enhance, restore or protect 5,000 acres of land in Michigan in the next five years.

“We felt it was our corporate responsibility to find an alternative nesting location for them,” said Jenny Crawford, a principal environmental planner at Consumers Energy.

Though the tower was completed later in the mating season, there is hope Harold and Ludwig will soon find their new home.

“We have our fingers crossed,” Crawford said.

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