November 2022

Wes Graham in a field scoping a burrowWes Graham, a Cooperative Energy transmission field biologist, recently received the designation of “Agent” from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This designation comes with the responsibility to protect the gopher tortoise through means only allowed by designated agents.

The gopher tortoise is a federally threatened species, meaning there are numerous restrictions on respecting and preserving the species and its habitat. Graham has proved himself as a trusted conservationist on previous projects, leading the Service to grant him agent status.

Graham’s new designation allows him to scope burrows and provide aid to the gopher tortoise on Cooperative Energy-managed properties. Graham said, “This designation comes with a big responsibility and I’m so humbled to have received it. We have worked hard over the years to establish pristine habitats along our rights-of-way for species like pollinators and the threatened gopher tortoise. I’m proud of the ‘environmentally responsible’ tagline in our mission statement and I do my best to uphold that every day.”

Cooperative Energy employees and contractors who work in the proximity of gopher tortoise habitats are required to attend annual training to learn how to spot and protect the species. Graham and his team should be notified of any projects occurring on Cooperative Energy rights-of-way so that proper precautions may be implemented.

Category: News & Notes

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Front cover of the March 2023 issue, Today in Mississippi. Dr. J. Kim Sessums pictured in front of his artwork.