Union Pacific Biodiversity Statement
Union Pacific operates across 23 states in the western two-thirds of our nation, touching everything from bustling metropolitan cities to quiet, secluded lands where only wildlife can be found. Our wide reach across the United States means it’s important that we act as conscientious stewards to protect the biodiversity we encounter through our operations.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of living organisms in a particular habitat. We work to preserve these ecosystems, improve our resiliency and reduce our impact. This is fundamental to ensuring a healthy environment and supporting vibrant local economies.
Union Pacific implements habitat conservation plans to protect ecosystems and endangered species in various locations along our right of way and corporate properties. We also engage with community partners, government, and nonprofit organizations working to protect our natural resources or reinvigorate specific ecosystem needs. We apply the following mitigation hierarchy when our operations are in close proximity to critical biodiversity, including legally protected areas, habitats, and species: 1) avoid impacting, 2) minimize impact, 3) rehabilitate / restore impact, 4) offset the impact elsewhere.
Some of our Environmental Practices and Initiatives:
Environmental Impact Analysis:
- Union Pacific reviews its construction and maintenance projects to understand potential environmental impacts and minimize impacts to the extent possible. Examples include site selection and design modifications to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands and sensitive habitats.
Threatened and Endangered Species Habitat Protection:
- Union Pacific evaluates construction capital projects to determine whether there would be impacts to threatened or endangered species and designs its projects to avoid or minimize negative impacts. For example, in 2021 we scheduled site prep work outside of the northern long-eared bat’s roosting period and complied with in-water work restrictions during construction in order to avoid impacts to the pallid sturgeon.
- Union Pacific obtains stormwater permit coverage and implements erosion control measures as part of its capital project development processes.
Wetlands Protection and Enhancement:
- Union Pacific works proactively to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands and other aquatic resources as part of our capital projects. Where impacts are unavoidable, we fund the replacement of wetland or aquatic resources lost due to our impacts, or purchase credits in approved mitigation banks. For example, in 2021, Union Pacific purchased both wetland and stream credits for bridge replacement projects in California’s Central Valley after minimizing impacts in compliance with applicable laws.
Employee Training and Engagement:
- Union Pacific has provided environmental awareness training to employees. Training topics include waterway and wetland resources awareness, stormwater best management practices, handling issues with sensitive species, and cultural, archaeological and tribal resources. During 2021 UP employees completed over 11,000 hours of this type of awareness and best practices training.
- Union Pacific is the first railroad to organize an employee led business resource group focused on environmental sustainability, Planet Tracks. The organization’s mission is to improve business performance while fostering workforce engagement and personal awareness driven by initiatives that inspire sustainable focus and innovation throughout the organization. Its objectives include identifying and educating Union Pacific’s workforce on environmental issues; championing environmental stewardship across the company and fostering employee engagement through training, networking and targeted activities.