The joint Mazda Toyota plant in Huntsville, Alabama, first announced in the first quarter of 2018, began construction in the summer of 2019. But it was quickly discovered that the plant was close to the habitat of endangered pygmy sunfish, and production halted for a time.
The land that houses the habitat was then bought by the Forever Wild Land Trust, part of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, for $10 million. The rare pygmy sunfish is a one-inch-long freshwater fish that make their home in warm climates.
For months the trust worked with Mazda Toyota and the Center for Biological Diversity to figure out a way to proceed with building the plant and vehicle production without disturbing the habitat. In the winter of 2019, Mazda Toyota promised $6 million to go toward the protection of the sunfish.
Mazda Toyota has also agreed that the plant will not use any pesticides or rodenticides, operate heavy equipment within the wetlands and other water bodies, and that there will be “no extraction, withdrawal, diversion, and impoundment of ground and surface water.”
The trust was happy with this donation, saying it shows that “economic development and conservation can go hand in hand,” and that this move will allow Alabama to protect its natural resources while still encouraging job growth in the area.
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