What do a locomotive engineer, a granite quarry, and Rockingham, North Carolina, have in common? Ducks Unlimited. For the last 16 years, Vulcan Materials Company and DU have partnered to provide wood duck habitat in and around a 1,300-acre granite mine in Richmond County. This conservation partnership led Vulcan to contribute $25,000 to DU’s Southeast Wetlands Initiative.
The roots of Vulcan’s relationship with DU can be traced back to former DU North Carolina State Chairman Gary Payne. During his 43-year career with CSX as a locomotive engineer, Gary was assigned to a variety of routes and responsibilities, one of which was hauling finished materials from Vulcan’s Rockingham granite quarry to destinations throughout the southeast. It was during one of his visits to the mine that he noticed a collection of wood duck boxes along a creek bed. This sparked a relationship that has had a profound impact on conservation in the area. Today, thanks to philanthropic support from Vulcan, more than 100 wood duck boxes have been installed throughout Richmond County. The boxes are maintained annually by the local DU committee.
“People suggest and offer to put up wood duck boxes all the time,” Gary says. “The difference here is that Vulcan has put forth the physical and financial resources to properly locate, install, monitor, and protect these boxes and the wetlands that they are placed on. What started as a small project in the quarry itself has become a really robust conservation effort throughout the county.”
Vulcan’s Rockingham quarry is one of the South’s largest granite deposits, producing over $20 million in total economic output annually. It’s also certified as a North Carolina Wildlife Federation Wildlife and Industry Together site, and more than 250 of its acres are actively managed for habitat protection. “Our long-standing environmental stewardship commitment is designed to protect plant and animal species and habitats, as well as the air we breathe, the water we use, and the planet we all share,” says Sean Hawley, Vulcan’s vice president and general manager for North Carolina. “In all parts of our company, we are focused on ensuring that our operations are efficient in ways that are economically and environmentally sustainable.”
To date, across all of its offices and locations, Vulcan Materials Company has committed over $100,000 to Ducks Unlimited’s conservation mission.