SOURCE: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

July 26, 2016 14:00 ET

$2.2 Million in Conservation Grants Announced by Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program

Innovative Program Works Closely With Communities to Cultivate Conservation

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - July 26, 2016) - The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced at the Urban Waters National Training Workshop that 58 community-led wetland, stream and coastal restoration projects across the nation have been awarded approximately $2.2 million in grants. The grantees have committed an additional $5.2 million in local project support, creating a total conservation investment of more than $7.4 million in projects that will restore wildlife habitat and urban waters. These projects will engage thousands of volunteers, students and local residents in community-based conservation projects.

The grants are awarded through the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program, which develops community stewardship of local natural resources across the country, preserving these resources for future generations and enhancing habitat for local wildlife by addressing water quality issues in priority watersheds. Since 1999, the program has supported more than 820 projects, with more than $9.8 million in federal funds, $7.9 million in private and corporate contributions, and $67 million in matching funds at the local level. Programmatic support for 2016 Five Star and Urban Waters program is provided by the Wildlife Habitat Council, and major funding by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, FedEx, Southern Company, Bank of America and Alcoa.

"The Five Star and Urban Restoration Program is such a wonderful example of a successful community-focused conservation effort," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "The program is in its 17th year, so it represents a long-term commitment to environmental challenges. And because a major program component is engaging communities in conservation, not only do we see the conservation benefits of the individual projects, but we also see the tremendous rewards of involving and educating citizens in the restoration and protection of clean water and healthy fish and wildlife habitat in their own communities."

"The Urban Waters Federal Partnership reconnects urban communities, particularly those that are overburdened or economically distressed, with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts to improve our nation's water systems and promote their economic, environmental and social benefits," said EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Joel Beauvais. "This public-private partnership allows EPA to assist communities in ways we could not do on our own."

"With a significant portion of our operations, people and facilities based in metropolitan centers, we highly value healthy urban spaces and appreciate the opportunity to invest in these restoration projects through financial contributions and team member volunteerism," said Mitch Jackson, vice president of environmental affairs and sustainability for FedEx Corp. "Through NFWF and the FedEx EarthSmart Outreach program, FedEx team members work directly with local nonprofits to improve the urban spaces where they live and work. We congratulate the community groups that were selected to receive grants as a part of the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program."

"Forests and water are inextricably linked," said U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie. "About 20 percent of the water used by families, farms and businesses in the United States originates on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and our urban forests provide billions of dollars in storm water management savings. USDA is pleased to support urban forest restoration so important to water quality and community health."

"This year's projects provide an excellent foundation for conserving natural resources well into the future by connecting and educating communities through hands-on watershed restoration," said Southern Company Chief Environmental Officer Dr. Larry S. Monroe. "Southern Company's long-standing support of the Five Star and Urban Waters program is an example of how we help make communities better because we are there."

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched our Urban Wildlife Conservation Program in 2013 to grow collaborative efforts that provide residents of demographically diverse cities with fresh opportunities to get outdoors and experience nature within the urban environment", said National Wildlife Refuge System Chief Cynthia Martinez. "These grants will help connect a new generation in the stewardship of our natural resources."

Another way the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reaches new audiences in urban areas is through birds and their conservation. The Service's Urban Bird Treaty cities bring together private citizens, federal, state, and municipal agencies, and non-governmental organizations to conserve migratory birds through education programs, participation in citizen science, habitat conservation and improvement, and reducing hazards to birds in urban/suburban areas. "Through the Urban Bird Treaty Program, citizens in metropolitan areas across the country are engaging in conservation efforts and education activities that are making a difference for the birds, habitats and people in their local communities," said Jerome Ford, the Service's Assistant Director for the Migratory Bird Program.

The Five Star and Urban Waters 2016 winners were selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 220 applications. The partnership bases consideration for funding upon educational and training opportunities for youth and the community at large as well as ecological, cultural and economic benefits. These projects also involve a high degree of partnership between local government agencies, elected officials, community groups, businesses, schools and environmental organizations for improving local water quality and restoring important fish and wildlife habitats. A full list of 2016 projects is available here.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nation's wildlife and habitats. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions. NFWF works with government, nonprofit and corporate partners to find solutions for the most intractable conservation challenges. Over the last three decades, NFWF has funded more than 4,500 organizations and committed more than $3.5 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $475 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world's most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 325,000 team members to remain "absolutely, positively" focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit http://news.fedex.com.

Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is America's premier energy company, with 44,000 megawatts of generating capacity and 1,500 billion cubic feet of combined natural gas consumption and throughput volume serving 9 million electric and gas utility customers through its subsidiaries. The company provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy through electric utilities in four states, natural gas distribution utilities in seven states, a competitive generation company serving wholesale customers across America and a nationally recognized provider of customized energy solutions, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and affordable prices that are below the national average. Through an industry-leading commitment to innovation, Southern Company and its subsidiaries are inventing America's energy future by developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including carbon-free nuclear, 21 st century coal, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency, and creating new products and services for the benefit of customers. Southern Company has been named by the U.S. Department of Defense and G.I. Jobs magazine as a top military employer, recognized among the Top 50 Companies for Diversity by DiversityInc, listed by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity and designated a Top Employer for Hispanics by Hispanic Network. The company has earned a National Award of Nuclear Science and History from the National Atomic Museum Foundation for its leadership and commitment to nuclear development and is continually ranked among the top utilities in Fortune's annual World's Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings. Visit our website at www.southerncompany.com.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov.

The National Wildlife Refuge System protects wildlife and wildlife habitat on more than 150 million acres of land and water from the Caribbean to the Pacific, Maine to Alaska. Refuges also improve human health, provide outdoor recreation and support local economies. Visit our home page at www.fws.gov/refuges.

The U.S. FWS Migratory Bird Program works to protect, restore, and conserve bird populations and their habitats for the benefit of future generation by: ensuring long-term ecological sustainability of all migratory bird populations, increasing socioeconomic benefits derived from birds, improving hunting and birdwatching and other outdoor bird-related experiences, and increasing awareness of the value of migratory birds and their habitats for their aesthetic, ecological, recreational and economic significance. Visit http://www.fws.gov/birds

Bank of America's commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a strategic part of doing business globally. Our CSR efforts guide how we operate in a socially, economically, financially and environmentally responsible way around the world, to deliver for shareholders, customers, clients and employees. Our goal is to help create economically vibrant regions and communities through lending, investing and giving. By partnering with our stakeholders, we create value that empowers individuals and communities to thrive and contributes to the long-term success of our business. We have several core areas of focus for our CSR, including responsible business practices; environmental sustainability; strengthening local communities with a focus on housing, hunger and jobs; investing in global leadership development; and engaging through arts and culture. As part of these efforts, employee volunteers across the company contribute their time, passion and expertise to address issues in communities where they live and work. Learn more at www.bankofamerica.com/about

The Forest Service mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service manages 193 million acres of forest and grasslands in 44 States and territories representing 30 percent of all federally owned lands. Working with partners, Forest Service programs restored or enhanced more than 6.1 million acres of public and private forest lands in FY 2014. Visit www.fs.fed.us

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's mission is to protect human health and the environment. EPA believes environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive and that all parts of society -- communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments -- have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks. For more information, visit www.epa.gov.

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