Glen Raven plants 25,000 pine trees

As part of a continuing program to improve the wildlife habitat surrounding its Sunbrella fabrics manufacturing center in Anderson, S.C., Glen Raven Custom Fabrics has planted 25,000 pine trees on adjacent undeveloped land.

The tree planting is one of several elements in Glen Raven's participation in the Wildlife and Industry Together (WAIT) program sponsored by the S.C. Wildlife Federation to encourage the enhancement of natural areas surrounding manufacturing centers.

"Our Anderson site totals 180 acres, which includes 130 acres that are not needed for manufacturing operations," said Leib Oehmig, president of Glen Raven Custom Fabrics. "This vacant land provides numerous opportunities for us to improve the natural habitat while we all learn more about the wildlife, flora and fauna of upstate South Carolina."

Glen Raven joined the WAIT program two years ago and has since added feeding and nesting areas throughout the plant site. An employee-led task force is responsible for planning and implementing the program, which includes a tree-mounted camera that records the nocturnal habits of animals in the area.

"Since this program began, we have been amazed by the quantity and diversity of wildlife around our plant," said Rodney Jones, chair of the WAIT task force at the Anderson plant. "Deer, coyotes and wild turkeys are here in abundance."

The area planted with trees has been maintained with tractor mowing since it was acquired in the early 1990s. With the tree planting, the 20-acre site will be allowed to grow naturally, resulting in improved habitat each year.

"This is a much better environmental solution," said Jerry Moore, an associate at the Anderson plant who managed the tree-planning project. "The new loblolly pine trees are small today, but are fast-growing and ideal for the upstate environment."

For the future, the WAIT team is planning a nature trail, which will complement the plant's wellness program that emphasizes regular exercise. Area Boy Scouts will be invited to help with the nature trails, including identification of plant life.

"The WAIT program is not only about habitat improvement, but also about environmental education and awareness," Jones said. "We learn something new about our environment and how to care for it every week."

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