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 Ducks Unlimited have partnered to provide wood duck habitat in and around a 1300-acre granite mine in Richmond County. It’s from those modest conservation efforts that a $25,000 contribution from Vulcan Materials Company to DU’s Southeastern Wetlands Initiative was made.
The roots of the burgeoning relationship can be traced back to past-North Carolina State Chairman Gary Payne. Having spent 43 years of his professional career with CSX Transportation as a locomotive engineer, Gary was assigned to a variety of routes and responsibilities, one of which was hauling the finished material from Vulcan’s Rockingham granite quarry to intended 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 which sparked a relationship that’s had a profound impact on conservation in the area. Today, thanks to philanthropic support from Vulcan, over 100 wood duck boxes have been installed throughout Richmond County, which are maintained annually by the local committee.
“People suggest and offer to put up wood duck boxes all the time” Payne said. “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 sit 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 and annually produces over $20 million in total economic output. It’s also certified as a North Carolina Wildlife Federation Wildlife and Industry Together (W.A.I.T) site with over 250 of its acres being actively managed for habitat protection. Sean Hawley, Vulcan’s Vice President and General Manager for North Carolina states “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. 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 office and locations Vulcan Materials Company has committed over $100,000 to Ducks Unlimited conservation mission.