Wildlife at Work

Photos show (left) one of the ponds created by the PG&E team to supplement wildlife habitats and (right) brush piles that provide nesting grounds for local birds.

Along a rural stretch in Middletown, California, lies a former landfill operated by Geothermal, Inc. to dispose of waste from nearby geothermal exploration and energy production activities. PG&E was one of 17 companies to use the landfill. After Geothermal, Inc. went bankrupt in the late 1980s, PG&E acquired the property and led the effort to close the landfill.

Over the past decade, PG&E has worked to close the landfill in compliance with California Regional Water Quality Control Board regulations and restore the site’s natural areas and wildlife habitat. To that end, the waste was consolidated and capped with soil. The closed landfill comprises a 40-acre area of the property; this left the remaining 420 acres of the property—comprised of rolling hills with native oaks, wetlands, ponds and open fields—available for wildlife habitat.

Last year, the Wildlife Habitat Council awarded PG&E a “Wildlife at Work” certification for the property in recognition of our wildlife enhancement efforts. The Wildlife Habitat Council is a nonprofit organization that works with corporations and community members to conserve and restore wildlife habitats on corporate lands.

Closure activities led to the loss of some wildlife habitat, including wetland and riparian areas, and removal of select oak trees. As required by regulatory agencies, PG&E mitigated these impacts by creating new wetlands and planting replacement trees on the property.

Additionally, logs from removed trees were given a second life and arranged into brush piles to enhance habitat for ground- and shrub-nesting birds, as well as reptiles and small mammals. We also created two ponds that have naturally vegetated and are used as habitat by amphibians, birds and other wildlife.

Five barn owl nest boxes have been installed around the perimeter of the closed landfill to attract the native predators; they will naturally limit the population of ground squirrels, whose burrowing is unwelcome on capped landfills.

As part of the Wildlife at Work program, PG&E will partner with the local community and employee volunteers to monitor the new habitat and create additional projects to enhance wildlife habitat on the property.


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