Revitalizing Atlas – One Bird at a Time

On May 18th 2012, Jean Vanier Secondary School’s Environmental Club set out to help replenish the natural bird population at the Welland Atlas Landfill site operated by Walker Environmental (WE).  The team was lead by Robert Lukacs, a Jean Vanier co-op student who has been working at Atlas for the past three months.  One of the projects that Robert was tasked with during his term was to research and recreate natural bird habitat in the storm water management pond/area of the site.

Darren Fry, Garreth Jones, Lino Ventresca, Paul Lafontaine and Robert LukacsThe project required some significant research into the native bird species and natural habitat along the Welland River.  Robert determined which local birds would benefit the most from the construction of new habitat.  He then focused on those species and researched what type of habitat they require. Bluebirds were at the top of the list because they are a species of concern, other birds like blue jays, chickadees, purple martins, wrens, swallows and bats were also considered.  After Robert’s research was complete he sought help from Jean Vanier’s construction students who designed and built bird houses suitable for the targeted birds.  The final step of the revitalization was taken by the school’s Environmental Club.

WEG’s Darren Fry & City of Welland’s Lino Ventresca posing with Jean Vanier’s Environmental clubA team of eight students gathered at the storm water management site around 9:00 a.m. Friday, May 18, and began to work.  Over 10 birdhouses, including 2 bat houses and a purple martin house, were successfully installed by the students.  Robert’s mentor and supervisor Darren Fry, Operations Manager for Atlas was present and helped to supervise the installations along with the Principal of Jean Vanier, Paul Lafontaine.   Lino Ventresca from the City of Welland was also in attendance to see the transformation take place.

Darren Fry commented, “Not only has this project brought value to the community and environment, it builds upon an already solid relationship between WE and the staff and students of Jean Vanier High School.”

Robert, and the Environmental Club, will keep a close eye on the bird houses in the coming months to track and measure occupancy of the new habitat.