ConocoPhillips Gives Back through Conservation Grants

 

The ConocoPhillips company has been interested in the High Plains region since Frank and L.E. Phillips established Phillips Petroleum Company at Bartlesville in 1917. Since the start of Playa Lakes Joint Venture in 1989, ConocoPhillips has been the lead corporate participant — providing the Joint Venture with in-kind support, employee expertise, and, money to kickstart bird habitat conservation projects.

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This is Playa Country — a weekly look at the wildlife, wetlands and prairies of the western Great Plains, and the people who manage them — brought to you by Playa Lakes Joint Venture, an organization dedicated to conserving birds and bird habitat.

The ConocoPhillips company has been interested in the High Plains region since Frank and L.E. Phillips established Phillips Petroleum Company at Bartlesville in 1917. Since the start of Playa Lakes Joint Venture in 1989, ConocoPhillips has been the lead corporate participant — providing the Joint Venture with in-kind support, employee expertise, and, money to kickstart bird habitat conservation projects.

Eileen Dey is Lower 48 Sustainable Development Manager for ConocoPhillips. She says migratory birds are marker species that provide a good indication of the health of the broader ecosystem. “In the bigger picture, this is what we are all about. Focusing on birds is helpful because you can study populations and obtain good information on the well-being of the total system. So improving bird habitat improves the habitat for many other species. It lends to an overall healthy ecosystem.”

Since the early-’90s ConocoPhillips has donated funds to the Joint Venture to do project work — wetland restoration, and actual habitat work.

“That program has been going on for more than 25 years and the funding is in excess of $2.2 million that they’ve given to the partnership. We use that through what we call the ConocoPhillips granting program.” Mike Carter is coordinator of Playa Lakes Joint Venture.

He says the Joint Venture puts the money out there for conservation projects by accepting requests for proposals from partners, maybe a state’s department of wildlife, or groups like Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, or the Natural Resources Conservation Service which might be working with a landowner to rehab a wetland. But there’s a string attached — projects the Joint Venture decides to fund must come to the table with matching money. So the ConocoPhillips grant money gets leveraged by additional funds from other sources.

“So the match on the program greatly exceeds $2.2 million to something like more than four to one, and its an important source of non-federal dollars.”

Now that is significant. This ConocoPhillips grant money is an important source for non-federal matching dollars. Christopher Rustay is conservation delivery leader for the Joint Venture. “Actually, non-federal match really is a big deal!”

For example, PLJV’s ConocoPhillips grants can be used as non-federal match when applying for small grants from the North American Wetland Conservation Act, which require a one to one match. So, if the grant request is for $75,000, there must be an equal amount, or more, of non-federal contributions to the project.

“One of the things that the government does want to see is that these funds are not given by the federal government to somebody’s pet project that really doesn’t have a lot of local buy-in. Having non-federal match — that is state funds, county funds, municipal funds, private landowners interested in the project — means that there is some community investment in what’s going on. It’s a wise way for the government to ensure that what they’re doing is not just money going to one single source but looking at what the community wants to see happen in their area.”

For a big company like ConocoPhillips, certainly there are many places it could spend money it’s devoting to philanthropy. I asked Eileen Dey, why birds? Why the Joint Venture?

“Primarily, because we are so impressed with the Joint Venture management board and the staff. Our JV board members, we feel, are among the most knowledgeable, committed and effective conservation managers on the planet. And the folks they select for the staff are just as talented. There are no hidden agendas in the Joint Venture. It’s all about the birds.”

Learn more about the PLJV ConocoPhillips grant program and funded conservation projects.

You’ve been listening to Playa Country, a weekly show about the wildlife, people and landscapes of the western Great Plains. This program is made possible by the Playa Lakes and Rainwater Basin Joint Ventures.

Original broadcast: May 2015

Posted: June 5, 2016
Topics: ConocoPhillips Grants