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NIEHS Certified as 'Wildlife And Industry Together' Site

By Dick Sloane
July 2005

nature trail around the lake NIEHS shares with EPA
Walking trails, such as the self-guided nature trail around the lake NIEHS shares with EPA, are among the reasons for the NIEHS certification as a WAIT site.

man-made lake
The man-made lake is home to several species of fish, including largemouth and striped bass, blue gills, channel catfish and triploid carp.

NIEHS is the first workplace in Research Triangle Park to achieve certification as a Wildlife And Industry Together, or WAIT, site.

The WAIT program is managed by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and is designed to recognize North Carolina workplaces that are practicing and promoting wildlife stewardship. It encourages the establishment of large portions of property for wildlife, but also addresses the need for environmental education for employees and the local community.

Some of the NIEHS programs highlighted during the certification process include:

  • Extensive educational outreach efforts in the areas of wildlife and recycling. Educational websites providing information on the lake's flora and fauna, the bluebird houses, fishing regulations, site history, plans and ozone awareness are found in the NIEHS web site. (See the Environmental Awareness Advisory Committee page at NIEHS reaches out to the internal and external community with bulletin boards, electronic newsletters, demonstrations at area schools, field trips, volunteer efforts with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and active participation in Research Triangle Park environmental efforts like Electronics Recycling Day and promotional events for alternative modes of transportation.
  • The wooded 82-acres campus, with its mix of buildings, roadways, parking lots, lawns, and ornamental plantings left much of the natural mixed pine and hardwood forest. Some native plant species found on campus include dogwoods, oaks, elms, hickory, tulip poplar, beech, sweet gum, red maple, red bud, arrow-wood, highbush, ferns, spike rush, smartweed, and freshwater cordgrass. Wildflowers are planted in areas formerly mown, and 23 acres adjacent to the lake is considered emergent wetlands. The man-made lake is home to several fish species including largemouth and striped bass, blue gills, channel catfish, and triploid carp. The woods provide a home for many other species of wildlife, including beaver, rabbits, deer, and migratory birds such as herons, egrets and ducks.
  • The Self-Guided Nature Trail that opened in February serves both NIEHS and EPA employees. A brochure available at the trail head near the NIEHS Memorial Garden gives detail on the flora, fauna, and history of the campus lake area. The trail's 15 marker posts are made of recycled plastic.
  • The bluebird house program that's been in place for nearly 30 years. It provides about 50 houses, which are cleaned several times a year. Data is collected and compiled on the numbers and types of birds found in them.
  • The Institute's annual Earth Day celebration that began in 1991. It serves as an influential employee continuing-education program featuring guest speakers, information tables, hands-on demonstrations, nature walks around the 23-acre campus lake, alternative transportation presentations, tree sale, plant exchanges, a vermicomposting demonstration, alternative fuel displays, and a photo contest.

"The NIEHS site epitomizes everything WAIT stands for: wildlife habitat projects, wildlife viewing and learning opportunities, community partnerships and a commitment to corporate wildlife stewardship," said Tim Gestwicki, WAIT program coordinator, in a letter to Associate Director for Management Rich Freed.

NIEHS will be featured along with other member sites in statewide newspaper and magazine promotions, and WAIT literature and displays.

Earlier this year, NIEHS was granted status as an Environmental Partner in the North Carolina Environmental Stewardship Initiative, a program designed to improve overall environmental performance of organizations in the state.

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