Union Pacific Strengthens Sustainability With ‘Construction’ of a New Foundational, Community Ties Giving Program Pillar

Flower Field | LR

Clymer Meadow Preserve, located northeast of Dallas, Texas, contains some of the largest and most diverse remnants of the Blackland Prairie and is part of a larger conservation area owned by The Nature Conservancy. Photo courtesy: Jacqueline Ferrato, TNC

Union Pacific’s strategic plan to reduce our environmental impact and grow a more sustainable economy just received a big foundational boost with the “construction” of a fourth giving pillar through the Community Ties Giving Program, the railroad’s philanthropic arm, and the establishment of a new collaboration.

“It’s important that we fund the things we’re working toward as a company,” said Beth Whited, Union Pacific’s executive vice president – Sustainability and Strategy. “Adding this new pillar allows us to do that in an effective, new way that impacts communities across the country.”

The new Environmental Sustainability pillar allows Union Pacific to support projects led by environmental nonprofits and community-based organizations that align with the company’s Community Ties Giving Program mission and sustainability goals. It is one of several new environmental initiatives Union Pacific has undertaken since announcing its Climate Action Plan in 2021, including increasing the use of alternative low-carbon fuels and investing in battery-operated locomotives.

As part of this work, Union Pacific is proud to work with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on three community-level projects in Nebraska, California and Texas.

“One of the best tools we have for combating climate change is nature,” said Suzanne Scott, state director for TNC in Texas. “This generous gift from Union Pacific will help TNC expand our work in places that have been impacted by a changing climate. Each of these projects are designed to improve water quality and resiliency for communities in Nebraska, California, and Texas. We’re grateful to Union Pacific for recognizing nature’s potential as a climate solution and for their support of this important work.”

Over the next three years, Union Pacific will donate a total of $3 million across three projects led by TNC:

  • Protecting and enhancing grassland within the upper Elkhorn River watershed (Omaha, NE). The project will help landowners who own marginal row crop acres enroll in a long-term conservation program that involves restoring those acres to grass and trees. This work will increase water quality, capture carbon, reduce local flooding and reduce downstream flooding.
  • Rewilding the San Joaquin Valley (Tulare County, CA). The project will "rewild" former agricultural lands that are voluntarily being fallowed to reduce water use and restoring them to upland habitat for critically threatened and endangered species.
  • Reconnecting Critical Landscapes for Watershed Health in North Texas (Dallas, TX). The project will improve watershed health, climate resilience and expand grasslands restoration in the Upper Basin of the Trinity River, the watershed of the fastest growing metroplex in the United States. Bringing together multiple conservation strategies and partners, this donation will advance community resilience, protect biodiversity, secure water supplies, and build a more resilient future for people and nature across North Texas.

The projects selected for funding tie into the company’s environmental sustainability objectives, which are to: preserve and restore nature; protect and enhance water or air quality; reduce waste; develop environmental stewards; and advance a green economy.

“We’re excited about the impact these projects will have on businesses we work with, communities where we operate and people we serve,” said Craig Ingrisano, President of Planet Tracks, Union Pacific’s Business Resource Group focused on sustainability and environmental issues. “It’s another step in furthering our mission to build a more sustainable economy for the next generation.”

Other pillars in Union Pacific’s Community Ties Giving Program are Safety, Workforce Development and Community Spaces. Like these pillars, the company will offer local and regional grants under the Environmental Sustainability pillar.

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