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THREE SITES AT USX CLAIRTON WORKS CERTIFIED AS WILDLIFE HABITATS

    THREE SITES AT USX CLAIRTON WORKS CERTIFIED AS WILDLIFE HABITATS
    CLAIRTON, Pa., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Three sites totaling about 60 acres at the USX (NYSE: X) Clairton Works have been certified as official wildlife habitats by the Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Council (WHEC), it was announced today.
    The Clairton sites will be awarded "highest habitat certification" by the Silver Spring, Md.-based group at a symposium and banquet in Washington Tuesday evening, Nov. 19.  The WHEC is composed of 100 companies, foundations, environmental groups and conservation organizations.
    "The plans and projects at the Clairton Works site are biologically sound and beneficial to wildlife and deserve public recognition and support," said Joyce Kelly, executive director of the Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Council.
    A total of 38 sites owned by 20 companies in 18 states will be certified at the Washington event. Established in 1988, the WHEC provides corporations with technical assistance to manage undeveloped land in ways that benefit wildlife.
    To the casual observer, the 500-acre Clairton coke plant -- where 1,600 people work -- seems an unlikely backdrop for the serenity of adjacent wildlife areas.
    George T. Weber, general manager of Clairton Works, said plant officials had identified substantial growth in the wildlife population adjacent to the plant in recent years.  This factor combined, he said, with employee interest in wildlife and environmental quality to prompt his organization to develop a management plan to enhance the 60 acres at three habitat sites for many different wildlife species.
    "We think the abundance of wildlife in and around the plant property is a clear indication of the commitment which has made Clairton Works the most environmentally progressive coke plant in the steel industry," Weber said.  "The dramatic reduction we've made in air and water emissions through the years has helped create a habitat attractive and conducive to a variety of mammals, birds and other wildlife species."
    Weber said projects were developed that include a forest management and field management program to aid hawks, owls, ground-nesting birds and various mammals such as foxes and deer. Nest boxes also will be installed to benefit songbirds and wood ducks.  Nesting platforms will be built for ospreys.
    A butterfly garden will be established through plantings on the front lawn of Clairton's main office building -- a quarter-acre site.
    In addition to the butterfly habitat, the other two sites include a 3.5-acre heavily forested flood plain area bordered by the Mononghahela River and a 30-foot-high bank leading to the plant's operating units and a 55-acre "V" shaped valley field across from the Clairton plant on the east side of the river.
    Weber said a volunteer group of union and management employees recently erected birdhouses for cavity nesters on the valley site. Wood duck boxes soon will be placed on the flood plain location.  He said the heavy forestation on the flood plain provides a great abundance of cover for birds.  Some of the trees will be cut to provide growing room for the more desirable bird species.  Other trees will be girdled to provide perches and nest sites.
    Weber said the 55-acre valley site on the east side of the river contains some established forest and forest wildlife, which will be preserved.  In the middle of the valley, there is less forestation but existing groundcover will be maintained by mowing on a rotating schedule.  The forest and field combinations on the large site provide a habitat for a diverse population of mammals and birds.
    The butterfly habitat at Clairton's main office building will involve planting annual and perennial plants next spring to supply cover for butterflies to lay egg masses and for developing caterpillars.  Milkweed and other plants that normally attract caterpillars also will be worked into the landscaping plan.
    "There is great interest and enthusiasm among our plant people in establishing these habitats," said Jerry Strelick, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 1557.  "Many of these people are avid outdoor enthusiasts and most of them have developed an intense interest in environmental quality because of the air and water quality programs here.
    "We're excited about meeting the Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Council's certification requirements.  We're thoroughly committed to the success of this undertaking."
    The Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Council created the Wildlife Habitat Certification Program and International Registry of Corporate Wildlife Enhancement Projects to encourage corporate wildlife protection efforts and educate corporate employees and other citizens on the value of wildlife and responsible land and water conservation. In all, 142 wildlife conservation projects on 160,000 corporate acres have been developed under the program.
    Other sites at U.S. Steel's Gary Works in Indiana and Fairfield Works in Alabama also will be certified at Tuesday's symposium.
    -0-                      11/18/91
    /CONTACT:  Thomas R. Ferrall, 412-433-6899, or R.W. Glenn, 412-433-6792, both of USX/
    (X) CO:  USX Corp. ST:  Pennsylvania IN:  MNG SU: DM -- PG003 -- 1358 11/18/91 11:02 EST
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Date:Nov 18, 1991
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