Toyota learns to let Nature take its course

Retention pond at Toyota's Mississippi plant  retention pond - now certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council as a Wildlife at Work program

Retention pond at Toyota’s Mississippi plant retention pond – now certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council as a Wildlife at Work program

Humans are wise to learn from Nature. Rather than insist on creating a picture perfect habitat, environmental specialists learned that letting Nature “win” has many rewards for wildlife.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi environmental specialist Sean McCarthy and other team members established two retention ponds that were designed to capture and hold storm water runoff, allowing any suspended solids to settle. Water discharge from the pond is regulated with an 11-foot sluice gate and a seven-foot concrete wall just beyond the gate. When the gate is raised, the water flows out through three slots in the wall.

But local area beavers packed the flow slots with trees and mud.

“It was almost like concrete,” says McCarthy. “We’d be down there once or twice a week and they’d be right back the next week.”

After battling the beavers for six months, the team packed it in by the fall of 2012. And the water stayed.

“It never empties,” McCarthy says. “Even in July and August there’s one to two feet of water. But there isn’t a risk of flooding since water still discharges when it reaches the top of the wall.”

And due to the constant water flow, ducks, fish and other wildlife now call the area home.

By creating year-round water retention, beavers have helped bring biodiversity and wildlife back

By creating year-round water retention, beavers have helped bring biodiversity and wildlife back

Another benefit is that the plant achieved certification as a Wildlife at Work program by the Wildlife Habitat Council and be named a finalist for its Rookie of the Year award this year.

“Letting the beavers do their thing created this habitat,” said McCarthy.

To discover more about Toyota’s biodiversity efforts, flock to its 2014 North American Environmental Report.

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