Shell Oil Company is partnering with the Nature Conservancy of Texas in an effort to rebuild an eroding island which is home to more than 24,000 nesting birds.
Shell has donated $500,000 toward the first phase of the project, which is estimated to cost a total of $2.3 million. Winter storms that moved across Corpus Christi Bay caused Shamrock Island to suffer the loss of sand on its beaches, uprooted sea grass, and breached the uplands that shelter the island’s lagoons and wetlands, according to the Nature Conservancy.
Many of Shamrock Island’s birds are on the Endangered Species List or are considered likely candidates for listing in the near future. Rebuilding the island will help the birds raise their population numbers without the need for costly and intrusive restrictions on regional property owners.
Shell Embraces Cooperation
Corporations like Shell have a long history of funding such restoration work, says Shell Oil Company Spokesperson Emily Oberton.
“Business has a responsibility to care about the societies in which it operates and to work with others to ensure that our natural resources and environment are managed carefully for the benefit of current and future generations,” said Oberton.
Helping with Money Troubles
Shell’s assistance is coming at an important time for the Nature Conservancy, which benefits from federal funding but experienced a federal funding cut in 2011.
“Several programs have not been restored to their full funding levels,” said Laura Huffman, the Nature Conservancy’s Texas director. “Paired with a tough economy where people give less, there are significantly less dollars available for important land, water, and marine conservation efforts.”
The Conservancy recognized decades ago that the private sector has an important role to play in advancing the organization’s conservation mission, said Huffman. The Conservancy is open to funding opportunities from a number of sources, not just government grants.
“We are working with companies large and small around the world to help change business practices and policies, raise awareness of conservation issues, and directly support important conservation projects like Shamrock Island,” Huffman said.
“Everybody needs to be in the game.… So yes, I do get excited when Corporate America says that conserving our natural resources is an important priority for their business—and then they invest accordingly,” she added.
Long History of Giving
Shell Oil has been a partner of The Conservancy since 1990 and has invested more than $2.3 million. In 2009 The Nature Conservancy was established as one of four Strategic Partners of Shell.
“When Shell enters an area to explore and ultimately set up operations, we do so with a business objective, but we also have two other goals—to protect the environment and to create a positive presence in the community through activities such as workforce development,” Oberton said.
Alyssa Carducci ([email protected]) writes from Tampa, Florida.