AriensCo has received the prestigious Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) Conservation Certification for its work to restore and conserve 150 acres of natural ecosystem at its headquarters in Brillion, Wis. The conservation effort is expected to have positive benefits for the land and animals that call the habitat home, as well as AriensCo employees, visitors and local residents.
The conservation project reflects a growing trend of companies working with third-party groups like the WHC to restore, conserve and enhance lands on private properties. AriensCo has committed to restoring approximately 86 acres of prairie oak savanna, a unique habitat that once thrived in the U.S. Midwest but is currently in peril. It is estimated that only 0.01 percent of Wisconsin’s original 5.5 million acres of prairie oak savanna are left. The remaining 64 acres of the project will be comprised of forests and wetlands. All of the land is on property that AriensCo owns.
“The history of AriensCo and the history of Brillion, Wisconsin, are interconnected,” said AriensCo Chairman and CEO Dan Ariens. “For five generations, the Ariens family has invested in this great city that supports us. By restoring and preserving this natural habitat, future generations will be able to enjoy the many benefits of connecting with the natural ecosystem of Wisconsin.”
AriensCo has been manufacturing the Gravely, Ariens, Countax and Westwood brands of outdoor power equipment, including both professional and consumer lines of lawn mowers and snowblowers, for nearly a century.
AriensCo has already established 26 acres of prairie oak savanna and 24 acres of forests and wetlands, and in the coming years, it aims to establish an additional 60 acres of prairie oak savanna and 40 acres of woodlands, including 2.5 acres of both shallow and deep marshes. The company is working with ecologists from McMahon Associates on a variety of strategies to revive the land and cultivate the native vegetation and wildlife that once called the area home. This includes managing controlled burns that use fire to root out invasive species and refresh prairie vegetation, which is critical to propagating the habitat.
AriensCo sought guidance from WHC in 2017 to begin the project. WHC runs a certification program that independently verifies environmental programs managed by a variety of companies around the world. This program is the only voluntary sustainability standard that is designed for broad-based biodiversity enhancement and conservation education activities on corporate landholdings. Currently, WHC helps facilitate conservation programs in 47 U.S. states and 28 countries.
“The WHC Conservation Certification program at the Brillion campus is a model of corporate conservation on a manufacturing site,” said Margaret O’Gorman, WHC President. “Recognizing the importance of green space for employees, AriensCo has created a thriving habitat to support wildlife, recreation and agriculture that meets the stringent requirements for WHC Certification.”
WHC Certification is the first step in managing the project and it marks the beginning of a continual effort to oversee the land. In what WHC calls “adaptive management,” AriensCo will embark on long-term strategies to evaluate success, revise objectives, consider modifications to maximize its efforts and ultimately, recertify the project. It’s a continual process to ensure that both the lands and the people that will enjoy them are maintained.
And while the project is focused on restoring and preserving an ecosystem of plants and animals, people that visit the grounds will surely benefit, too. By restoring these habitats, the company can reduce air pollution, protect vital resources, contribute to people’s rest and positive mental health, and increase a sense of community for the people of Brillion and those that visit. The conservation area resides next to recreational trails the company has been creating over the last few decades and next to Stone Prairie, an event site AriensCo debuted last year. The result is a stronger, more supportive and more appealing work environment for AriensCo employees.
“The biggest motivation for AriensCo for this project is the future and health of our community and employees,” Dan Ariens said. “We have our roots here in Brillion. We want to protect this land, the people and the wildlife that call it home, not just for the present, but for generations to come. We are committed to this project’s success and excited by all of the benefits it will bring to plants, animals and people alike.”