The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is one of BCI’s longtime U.S. partners. In 1999, NRCS biologist Robert Schmidt attended a BCI Bats and Mines workshop in Reno, Nevada, and promptly became hooked on bats. He sent out letters to every mining company in the state, offering to work with them on bat conservation projects through the wildlife habitat incentive program in which the NRCS covers 75 percent of the cost of conservation projects.
Schmidt’s first positive reply was from an equally enthusiastic Stephanie Hallinan, a BCI member and environmental engineer for the Placer Dome Mining Company’s Cortez Gold Mine. During ongoing efforts to close dangerous, abandoned, underground mines, Hallinan discovered two mines that house bats. Last winter, mine employees worked to install bat-friendly gates at the sites, and this winter, bat droppings found on the gate attested to their success.
When Placer Dome received its incentive check from the NRCS, the company’s generous response was to immediately donate the funds to BCI. “Cortez Gold Mines would like to thank the NRCS, and specifically Robert Schmidt, for his efforts in promoting BCI and the work they have participated in with the mining industry,” said Hallinan. “We’re presenting this check to BCI to further their conservation efforts.”