Representatives from Rockies Express Pipeline, LLC, visited Hays today to commend a professor and students in the Department of Biological Sciences for research the Fort Hays State University team conducted as part of a pipeline project.
To show their appreciation, representatives of the pipeline company made a $10,000 donation to the Biological Sciences Department during a reception and news conference in Albertson Hall.
The gift stems from consultations involving ecological assessments conducted by Dr. Bill Stark, associate professor of biology, and FHSU students, related to the construction of the western portion of the Rockies Express Pipeline, a 1,679-mile natural gas pipeline extending from Rio Blanco County, Colo., to Monroe County, Ohio.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, thanked Rockies Express Pipeline for the gift and commended Stark and the biology students for their work. "Bill has expertise in aquatic ecology and fisheries, and he was enlisted to perform ecological surveys at stream-crossings from near Marysville, Kan., to central Missouri," the president said. "The surveys focused on sensitive aquatic species, mainly the endangered Topeka Shiner, a small silvery-colored minnow that is less than 3 inches in length with a well-defined dark stripe along its side. The Topeka Shiner is found in the headwaters of prairie streams with clean water, cool temperatures, and gravel, rock or sand bottoms."
"FHSU welcomes the opportunity to partner with businesses and outside agencies, using the expertise of our faculty to contribute to the well being of the community," President Hammond said. "Also, such partnerships provide valuable real-world learning experiences for our students."
"We are pleased to present the Fort Hays State University Department of Biological Sciences with this donation for their assistance with the environmental survey efforts on Rockies Express (REX) West," said Allen Fore, spokesman for the Rockies Express Pipeline. "As this project moves forward, we continue to be committed to the environment and working with communities along the pipeline route. This donation is a testament to both commitments."
Stark has studied the Topeka Shiner episodically for 20 years.
"Working on pipeline mitigation was an ideal learning opportunity for more than a dozen of my biology students who have assisted me since I began consultation on the Rockies Express Pipeline project in the summer of 2006," Stark said.
Stark said he and his students might continue to monitor the streams and habitat for the next three years to help document recovery efforts along the construction right of way. He looks forward to the new teaching opportunities the donation will provide.
"This gift is an affirmation of our department’s success in merging new technology with traditional strengths in conservation biology and ecology to interact effectively with the private sector in ways that add value to the student learning experience," Stark said. "These funds will provide invaluable support by allowing faculty to enhance the 'extra-classroom' experiences that continue to provide respected and successful graduates."
The Rockies Express Pipeline System is a significant investment in the U.S. energy infrastructure and will help meet the nation's need for energy and growing demand for safe, clean-burning natural gas. This additional pipeline capacity is needed to deliver natural gas to end-users.
Rockies Express Pipeline, LLC, is a joint development of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P.; Sempra Pipelines & Storage, a unit of Sempra Energy; and ConocoPhillips.