Shell Oil Invests in North America's Wetlands and Grasslands

Since 2009, Shell has made significant financial contributions to help DU deliver conservation projects

© Michael Furtman

As one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas in North America, Shell Oil is committed to maintaining the health of the landscape and its ability to provide these vital natural resources. To accomplish this, Shell has partnered with Ducks Unlimited in the United States and Canada, as well as with many other organizations, to increase the impact of its investments in conservation.

"When it comes to protecting the natural environment, we see great benefits in investing in strategic partnerships that preserve, conserve, and restore wetland habitats," explains Bruce Culpepper, executive vice president of Shell Americas. "Our partnership with DU is an excellent way to do that through programs and projects that have a lasting, meaningful impact."

Since 2009, Shell has made significant financial contributions to help DU deliver conservation projects in some of the continent's most resource-rich regions, including the U.S. Gulf Coast and Prairie Canada. The most notable of these projects has been on DU Canada's signature property, the Shell Buffalo Hills Conservation Ranch in southern Alberta. This sprawling 6,000-acre property boasts more than 800 wetlands and a considerable amount of intact native prairie. DU Canada sought to raise $12 million to secure the at-risk ecosystem, and Shell's support helped make that a reality.

"This is one of the last remaining tracts of native prairie grassland in an area of intensive grain production," says Perry McCormick, DU Canada's manager of provincial operations in Alberta. "The ecological value of this land, which supports more than 60 waterfowl nests per square mile, is undeniable."

Because its environmental efforts are voluntary, Shell looks for partners that can produce measureable results and provide the greatest return on the company's investments. As with all its projects, DU works to leverage Shell's funds through grant programs such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Additionally, DU engineers and biologists have worked together to implement a monitoring program to measure progress on Shell project sites and report this data back to the company.

Sean Stone, senior director of development for DU, has also been working hand in hand with Shell over the years, appearing at company forums to present and discuss various programs and projects. "Shell wants to know how their support is making a difference, so we've stepped up our efforts," Stone explains. "We are committed to showing them that thisis on-the-ground, top-quality restoration work."

Ducks Unlimited and Shell also share a continental view of natural resources conservation. This provides an ideal opportunity for a lasting partnership that will help both organizations achieve their goalsacross the landscape. "Wetlands loss is a complex and long-term problem that demands a collaborative solution," Culpepper says. "The oil and gas industry will continue to work cooperatively with regulators, academics, elected officials, and environmental groups to find and implement comprehensive solutions. At Shell, we believe that by collaborating with organizations such as DU, we can use their expert advice in shaping our efforts to help conserve biodiversity."

Partnership Benefits Pennsylvania Waterfowl and Hunters

Shell Oil has a significant presence in the Marcellus natural gas development that stretches across Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. Just 30 miles from Titusville, Pennsylvania, where the country's first oil was drilled in 1859, the company has invested $250,000 in conserving vital habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife. Ducks Unlimited and a host of conservation partners are currently hard at work using these funds to restore and improve Pennsylvania's most significant wetlands complex, located on the Pymatuning Wildlife Management Area. This vital habitat supports breeding and migrating waterfowl, including Southern James Bay Population Canada geese, mallards, ring-necked ducks, and wood ducks, as well as providing public waterfowl hunting opportunities.