A few years ago, Domtar’s Marlboro Mill in Bennettsville, South Carolina, recognized the environmental benefits of creating a wildlife management plan to help increase the health of native habitats around the mill.
The local EarthChoice Ambassadors chapter, which seeks to engage employees in sustainability efforts, championed the cause, and the mill’s leadership team reached out to a regional university to begin the process. While it’s common for pulp and paper mills to employ co-op students in subjects such as engineering, hiring a wildlife management co-op student is somewhat uncommon.
The Marlboro Mill, named in honor of the county it’s in, sits along the Pee Dee River, where a rich mix of species thrives. The mill’s wildlife management plan focuses on helping the mill lands support larger, healthier populations of local species found around the facility, like wild turkey, whitetail deer and waterfowl. The wildlife management plan established five goals to protect those species and help increase local biodiversity:
- Increase the abundance and diversity of native plant species on the property.
- Increase the habitat quality for whitetail deer.
- Increase the habitat quality for wild turkey.
- Increase the number and quality of transitional zones and travel corridors.
- Improve nesting sites for wood ducks.
Wildlife Management Plan in Action
To meet the plan’s goals, the mill thinned trees to establish travel corridors, encouraged the growth of native shrubbery to provide wildlife cover and planted food plots to create feeding zones. Additionally, it built nesting boxes to house a wide variety of creatures, including wood ducks, bluebirds and bats. These actions help protect and promote the natural biodiversity that surrounds the mill.
“Implementing the wildlife habitat management plan at the Marlboro Mill was a great way to demonstrate the value that Domtar places on environmental responsibility, right here in our own backyard,” said Athena Strickland, the mill’s environmental and technical services manager.
Since establishing the wildlife management plan, the mill has seen significant results. Improved habitat quality and biodiversity have led to an uptick in the wild turkey and deer populations. In fact, turkeys are now so abundant that visitors to the area pass a wild turkey crossing sign when entering through the Marlboro Mill’s north gate.