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Atlantic Coast Pipeline & Thunder Eagle Wildlife: Working together to preserve wildlife habitats

When Karen and Larry WhiteEagle-Fisher were asked if the Atlantic Coast Pipeline could go through their 65-acre property — the Thunder Eagle Wildlife preserve in Dinwiddie County — they had to think about it.

“We have to admit that we were very skeptical about dealing with "Big Business" and were very worried that there would be conservation concerns as they crossed the property on our farmland,” the couple wrote on the organization website. “But what a pleasant surprise when we found out that these people were interested in our opinions and tolerated our 'grouchiness' with a healthy tolerance and a smile.”

The WhiteEagle-Fishers are the president and vice president respectively of Thunder Eagle Wildlife, a nonprofit organization that provides care and treatment of injured, orphaned or displaced wildlife. Karen is a registered nurse. Larry is a decorated Vietnam War veteran. Both are Native American.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would traverse approximately 600 miles from the resource-rich Marcellus and Utica shale areas of West Virginia and Pennsylvania through Virginia to North Carolina. The original route for the pipeline passed right through Thunder Eagle. Because many of the animals it rescues are birds, Thunder Eagle was in need of an enclosure for large raptors, such as Great Horned Owls and Red Shouldered Hawks. Many of the birds have broken wings and need safe places to exercise as they recover.

Their ACP land agent, Aaron Estes, knew exactly how he could help the WhiteEagle-Fishers build a flight enclosure. Estes was able to work through Dominion Energy to secure used power poles for the enclosure frame. And he encouraged the WhiteEagle-Fishers to apply for a grant to help build the enclosure.

In April, Thunder Eagle was presented with a $10,000 check from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Community Investment Program towards the building of the raptor flight enclosure. The poles were delivered in May. “These folks have been a joy to work with,” the couple wrote on the Thunder Eagle website. “They are patient educators, accommodating our concerns and maintaining a respect for the conservation of the wildlife and the land they have to cross. We are looking forward to continuing to our cooperative efforts and growth, restoring nature's balance.”

Watch the video to experience the Thunder Eagle Wildlife Preserve and see how the ACP team has interacted with this Dinwiddie couple.


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