Volunteers from Shell joined The Friends of Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Thursday, Jan. 13 to lead the first planting at the new Wildflower Energy Project in St. Mary Parish.

Friends of Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge recently received funding from pipeline companies, including Shell, to purchase wildflower seeds to establish a wildflower area on pipeline and electric power line right-of-ways.

“It’s important to Shell Pipeline that we are weaving conservation techniques that promote biodiversity and natural carbon sequestration in with the maintenance and operation of our pipeline right-of-way,” said Steve Ledbetter, President, Shell Pipeline Company LP, and President and CEO, Shell Midstream Partners GP, LLC. “It’s our goal to be leading the development of conservation techniques for right-of-way maintenance for the midstream industry as a part of the American Petroleum Institute (API) and there’s an opportunity for us to collaborate with other industry players to scale this work.”

API is currently developing Conversation Guidelines to aid companies that want to pursue and incorporate conservation techniques. The Wildflower Energy Project will serve as a model to help inform the development of these guidelines. With over 500,000 miles of oil and natural gas transmission pipelines throughout the United States, utilizing these guidelines throughout the industry will have an enormous and positive benefit to the communities and environment in which we operate and to the Nation as a whole.

The beginning phase of the Wildflower Energy project will be to establish approximately 20 acres area of native wildflowers and grasses on Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge in St. Mary Parish near Franklin and Centerville. Over time, the project could be expanded to cover additional areas on pipeline and electric power line right-of-ways.

“By planting native wildflowers and grasses, this land will be able to provide numerous benefits to this refuge, to this community and to this state. We will attract and support populations of pollinators, birds, and many species of other indigenous wildlife - like the Louisiana black bear. We will further enhance the beautification of this area along Hwy 90 and St. Mary Parish,” said Ledbetter.

Once the wildflower areas are established, these areas are expected to attract nature photographers, artists, hikers and the general public. The area could provide many opportunities for educational studies.

“We are committed to partnering with our local communities to drive shared value through supporting conservation projects like this that improve the ecosystems, natural habitats and communities where we operate,” said Ledbetter. “At Shell, we pride ourselves on the ingenuity and innovation we apply every day to build and operate our pipelines. Our approach here in Bayou Teche, while seemingly simple in planting seeds and growing wildflowers, is just as innovative. An innovative program that we will develop and implement along areas of Zydeco and our other assets.”

For additional information about the Friends of Bayou Teche NWR or the Wildflower Energy Project, please visit https://www.bayoutecherefugefriends.org/wildflower-energy-project.

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