Duke Energy ramps up environmental efforts, joins forces to protect vulnerable wildlife in Florida

  • Company heightens vegetation management practices to protect endangered wildflower, threatened lizard in Marion County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., July 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — As part of its commitment to support the vitality of a healthy ecosystem, Duke Energy Florida has aligned efforts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), among other agencies, to protect a population of federally endangered wildflowers in central Florida.

Earlier this spring, Duke Energy environmental scientists joined various agencies and stakeholders to maximize the preservation and protection of the federally endangered clasping warea (Warea amplexifolia) and the federally threatened sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi) found in an unincorporated community in Marion County, near Ocklawaha.

The annual wildflower occurs nowhere else in the world other than the central ridges in Florida, with the Ocklawaha population being among one of the largest of identified populations. By protecting the plant’s habitat, the team is supporting other species that depend on it, like the sand skink.

“Powering the lives of our communities extends far beyond keeping the lights on for our customers,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president. “Duke Energy is proud to work alongside our community allies to protect Florida’s most-treasured species and the habitats they depend on.”

A first for Duke Energy in Florida, the company is installing “sensitive habitat” management signage within its rights-of-way corridors to alert contractors and crews working in these areas. The company has also shifted its vegetation management practices to limit mowing and lower the volume of herbicide used in targeted areas to help the plants grow and flourish.

“Duke Energy Florida’s willingness to support management of the endangered clasping warea on its lands alongside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program speaks volumes,” said USFWS’ Partners for Fish and Wildlife/Coastal Program Coordinator Chad Allison. “The cooperation inspires and engages a network of state and federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private landowners alike proving conservation and industry can not only coexist but can ultimately thrive.”

The collaboration furthers Duke Energy and Duke Energy Foundation’s commitment to environmental stewardship and community engagement. Since 2015, the Duke Energy Foundation has provided more than $188,000 in grants to the Rare Plant Conservation program at Bok Tower Gardens to establish new populations of the clasping warea through seed preservation, habitat quality improvements, biological research and increasing plant numbers in the wild.

Among the project team leading these efforts are Duke Energy Florida, USFWS, Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS), Bok Tower Gardens, FNPS-Marion Big Scrub Chapter, Putnam Land Conservancy, as well as volunteers and private landowners.

The team will continue to engage landowners in the area, bringing awareness to the ways they can support and protect the species now and in the future.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at facebook.com/usfwssoutheast, follow our tweets at twitter.com/usfwssoutheast, watch our YouTube channel at youtube.com/usfws, and download photos from our Flickr page at flickr.com/photos/usfwssoutheast.

Duke Energy Florida

Duke Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, owns 10,300 megawatts of energy capacity, supplying electricity to 1.9 million residential, commercial and industrial customers across a 13,000-square-mile service area in Florida.

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 50,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 28,000 people.

Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy transition to achieve its goals of net-zero methane emissions from its natural gas business and at least a 50% carbon reduction from electric generation by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The 2050 net-zero goals also include Scope 2 and certain Scope 3 emissions. In addition, the company is investing in major electric grid enhancements and energy storage, and exploring zero-emission power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2022 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ “America’s Best Employers” list. More information is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos and videos. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Facebook.

Duke Energy media contact: Audrey Stasko       

Cell: 315.877.3031

Media line: 800.559.3853

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service media contact: Renee Bodine

Phone: 352.451.8126

Email: renee_bodine@fws.gov 

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