Pantex Nominated for Presidential Award

  • Posted: Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 12:00 am

Work with migratory birds nets U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service award nomination

For the third year in a row, the Pantex Plant has been nominated by the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration for a national award in recognition of its research on migratory birds.

Pantex will represent the DOE/NNSA in the competition for the 2014 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award, which has been administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 2011. Each federal agency is eligible to nominate one project or action conducted by or in partnership with a federal agency that meets the intent and spirit of Executive Order 13186 by focusing on migratory bird conservation.

The Presidential order directs federal agencies to promote research on migratory birds through partnerships, outreach and information sharing. DOE/NNSA typically chooses the nominee each year from all facilities that have migratory bird programs.

“DOE and NNSA nominated Pantex three years in a row for this award, which indicates just how strong our migratory bird program is at Pantex,” said Teresa Robbins, acting assistant manager for Environment, Safety, Health & Quality with the NNSA Production Office (NPO). “We are proud to represent the DOE and NNSA in this competition and proud that our migratory bird conservation efforts have been recognized through this nomination.”

The site’s work to research and protect migratory birds began to evolve in 2002, and over the years has included efforts involving Western Burrowing Owls, Purple Martins and migratory birds that may be affected by wind energy development. Work is proposed and coordinated by James D. Ray, Pantex Plant wildlife biologist, with support from NPO.

Pantex pursued partnerships with multiple educational, governmental and private organizations, including Texas Tech University, the United States Geological Survey’s Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, West Texas A&M University (WTAMU), private landowners, banding site cooperators, York University and the Purple Martin Conservation Association.

This year’s application focused heavily on the research elements of the migratory birds program and the academic and professional output that has resulted from that research. Research on migratory birds at Pantex has contributed to five Master of Science degree theses and has been published in multiple technical journals. Presentations on the research have been made at more than 30 professional meetings, as well as local groups.

Currently, a multifaceted project is evaluating the effects of wind energy development on migratory birds. This program includes a contract with WTAMU and has resulted in the development of a comprehensive literature review on the impacts of wind energy on wildlife, and the initiation of pre- and post-turbine monitoring of migratory birds. This project also involves surveys of plots for wintering and migrating raptors, surveys of plots in different habitat types during the breeding season for birds and nests, along with radio and satellite tracking of Swainson’s hawks.

New research collaborations have provided insights into the migratory patterns of the Swainson’s hawks and the Purple Martins as they migrate from the Texas Panhandle to winter in South America.

Taken together, the different actions involved in the migratory bird program present a picture of a site that is dedicated to exceeding the minimum federal mandates for migratory birds.

“Pantex is really a unique site that provides many excellent opportunities for research into all areas of wildlife and the environment,” Ray said. “We are committed not only to taking care of the environment here at Pantex, but to contributing to wildlife conservation on a larger scale, beyond the borders of the plant.”

Greg Cunningham
Public Affairs
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