Unimin Corporation, a BCI partner in protecting bats in abandoned mines, was awarded the Wildlife Habitat Council's Corporate Habitat of the Year Award. The award to Unimin's Tamms/Elco Plant in southern Illinois recognizes voluntary efforts to restore and enhance wildlife habitat.
The plant's 18-member wildlife team manages 1,950 acres (789 hectares) of habitat for a variety of species. The site includes the abandoned Magazine Mine, the hibernation home of Illinois' largest and now most rapidly growing population of endangered Indiana myotis (Myotis sodalis), as well as other bat species.
Unimin, Bat Conservation International, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Southern Illinois University, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service erected a bat-friendly gate at one of two entrances to the mine in 1996. The main entrance, however, was so unstable that it had to be stabilized with engineered steel arches and treated timber posts. The project was completed in August 2001.
The latest winter census at the Magazine Mine counted at least 28,999 bats — more than 26,325 of them Indiana myotis.