SGA Blog

2016 Environmental Excellence Award – Stewardship

Congratulations to Williams for being selected as this year’s winner of the SGA Environmental Excellence Award in the Stewardship category. Robert Pichardo of Williams presented the winning program at the 2016 Environmental, Safety & Health, and Training Conference held in Baltimore, Maryland.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the submission for the award:

Hellbender, aquatic salamander

Hellbender, aquatic salamander

Williams’ Eastern Hellbender Salamander Partnership Project includes a species restoration and habitat conservation effort with local, state and federal agencies, zoos, non-governmental organizations and educational institutions. The Hellbender is a completely aquatic salamander and the largest species in North America, but populations have declined dramatically throughout its range, thus making it a Federal Species of Concern. Surveys of the Hellbender in the late 2000s found an 82% population decline in Ohio since the mid-1980s. To stabilize the population, Williams provided funding for conservation, stream protection and the creation of biosecure facilities to rear Hellbenders for release back into the wild. This innovative partnership is working to reverse species decline and ensure the future of this Ohio Endangered Species.

The central component of this Project consists of collecting wild Hellbender eggs, raising the young salamanders in biosecure facilities and then releasing the species into the wild to reestablish the population. “Head-starting” programs, such as this, have been successful for other amphibian species, but the greatest predictor of success is the number of animals released to the environment.  This posed a problem for the Ohio Hellbender Partnership, who had limited biosecure facility space to ensure that no novel pathogens are passed to Hellbenders destined for release.

Hellbender Conservation Center at the Toledo Zoo and Penta Career Center

Williams contributed to the partnership’s new Hellbender Conservation Center at the Toledo Zoo and Penta Career Center. The facilities provide biosecurity and additional space necessary to raise large numbers of Hellbender youth for reintroduction into the wild. The Penta Career Center’s Hellbender facility also provides high school students the opportunity to participate in a real-world species recovery program. This unique experience is providing valuable job skills, while also fostering critical thinking about solutions to today’s environmental challenges.

About Williams:

Williams, is an energy infrastructure company focused on connecting North America’s significant hydrocarbon resource plays to growing markets for natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs) and olefins. Williams’ operations span from the deepwater Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian oil sands. Williams owns and operates midstream gathering and processing assets, and interstate natural gas pipelines.  In addition, Williams processes oil sands off-gas and produces olefins for petrochemical feedstocks.


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