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GP Monticello recognized for conservation efforts

Georgia-Pacific’s containerboard mill in Monticello has again been awarded a Conservation Certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council, an international organization that works with industrial sites to promote wildlife habitats.

GP Monticello was re-certified based on two annual projects, the Catch-A-Dream Foundation hunt and a project to monitor wildlife on the mill’s property.

Catch-A-Dream Foundation grants once-in-a-lifetime hunting and fishing experiences to children with life-threatening illnesses. GP Monticello hosts a child and his or her family for a days-long experience on the more-than 2,000 acres surrounding the mill. Guides make sure the child harvests a trophy, and the mount and processing are provided by the mill.

GP Monticello has hosted a dream hunt each year since 2002. Several employees volunteer to make the hunt a success. In addition to the hunt, the environmental department at the mill tracks deer sightings on the property to monitor their activities. An alligator monitoring project is similar in that the department documents the movement and location of alligators that live in mill ponds and wetland areas. Monitoring efforts helped the environmental team determine that the mill has minimal impacts on the ecosystem of alligators and deer.

“The idea behind monitoring the deer and alligators onsite is to ensure that our industrial practices aren’t interfering with their life cycles and activities,” environmental engineer Caroline Novy said.

In the past, the mill has provided nesting for bluebirds, wood ducks and bats. Native flowers have been planted to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Food plots for deer and turkey are also maintained.

Healthy, diverse and sustainable forests provide critical habitat for wildlife. Georgia-Pacific works with others in the forestry and environmental community to support wildlife and forest enhancement projects in communities near several Georgia-Pacific operations. Created in 1988, the Wildlife Habitat Council works with industrial sites to promote wildlife habitats and recognizes member companies for doing good work through its certification program. GP has been working with the Council since the late 1990s.

“The WHC programs are important for a number of reasons,” Bobby Maddrey, director of Global Forestry & Biodiversity for GP, said. “A lot of our mills have significant landholdings around them that harbor a variety of wildlife species, even endangered species at some mill sites. So we feel it’s important as a company to manage these sites to their full potential whether it be for wildlife, forestry or water resources.”

Maddrey said the certification also shows customers, especially those visiting facilities, that GP goes above and beyond what’s required by laws and regulations.

“I’ve been involved in many customer visits at facilities and they are always amazed at the various projects we have going on,” he said. “The program also gives us an avenue to partner with regional and national conservation groups. And if you look at the program as a whole, GP is the only forest products company that has certified facilities, so we believe this is another thing that sets us apart.”