WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - December 13, 2016) - Acres for America, one of the most effective public-private partnerships in the history of U.S. conservation efforts, today announced the award of $2.6 million in grants to conserve, improve or connect wildlife habitat across more than 82,000 acres in Arizona, California, Louisiana, Tennessee and Wyoming. The Acres for America program was established by Walmart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to conserve lands of national significance, protect critical fish and wildlife habitat and benefit people and local economies.
"The Acres for America grants announced today represent the best of conservation in the United States," said John Clarke, vice president of Walmart store planning. "Walmart is pleased to support the protection of these natural habitats, in particular, the two projects that add to our unparalleled National Park system as it celebrates its Centennial year."
The National Park Service turned 100 on August 25, 2016, and is kicking off a second century of stewardship of America's national parks and engaging communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs. Two of this year's grants -- including its largest -- dovetail with the National Park Service celebrations:
Protecting Antelope Flats, Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming): Identified as the highest national priority acquisition for the U.S. National Park Service, this land serves as a critical migration route for elk, pronghorn, moose, bison and wolves. The Foundation's $1 million grant to the Grand Teton National Park Foundation will support an effort to purchase and protect a 640-acre parcel that is surrounded by national park land. The purchase, which closed December 12, 2016, will be immediately added to the Grand Teton National Park as part of this year's centennial celebration. The acquisition will ensure that the natural and scenic resource value of Grand Teton National Park remains protected in perpetuity. The grant leverages an additional $45.2 million in matching contributions for the protection of the property.
Conserving Fleming Plantation (Louisiana): The Foundation's $380,000 grant to The Trust for Public Land will conserve the 3,476-acre Fleming Plantation as an addition to Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Located in the biological hotspot of the Barataria Basin, the site provides forest, marsh and aquatic habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wetland-dependent wildlife. The conservation of this property, located just 15 miles from New Orleans, will improve the ecological integrity of the Louisiana Gulf Coast while expanding opportunities for public recreation. The grant leverages an additional $2 million in matching contributions from the North American Wetland Conservation Act grant program for the protection of the property.
The remaining 2016 Acres for America grant awards are:
Conservation of Cienega Grassland Ranch (Arizona): The Foundation's $225,000 grant to The Trust for Public Land will permanently protect 16,500 acres of high-quality native grasslands and wildlife habitat at the base of the Chiricahua Mountains in the Sky Island Region of southeastern Arizona. Conservation easements on these acres will allow working cattle operations to be maintained in the face of increasing pressure for residential development, fragmentation, and conversion to intensive agriculture. The easements will also preserve an important conservation corridor for desert and grassland bird species. The grant leverages an additional $3.1 million in matching contributions for the protection of the property, and has spurred significant additional investments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Protecting Working Hardwood Forestland and Bat Habitat in Skinner Mountain Forest (Tennessee): The Foundation's $500,000 grant to The Conservation Fund, in partnership with the State of Tennessee, will acquire 14,600 acres of working hardwood forestland in Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau to protect critical karst habitat for seven bat species of Greatest Conservation Need, most notably three bat species listed under the Endangered Species Act: Indiana bat, gray bat, and northern long-eared bat. The protection of this area will preserve important ecological sites, increase land connectivity, sustain forestry jobs, create new public recreation opportunities, and preserve water quality and forest health. The grant leverages an additional $6.5 million in matching contributions for the protection of the property.
Creating a Cold-Water Refuge for Klamath River Salmon at Blue Creek (California): The Foundation's $500,000 grant to Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) will help complete the acquisition of 47,097 acres of land along the lower Klamath River and its most important cold-water tributary, Blue Creek. The lands lie within the globally important Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion of California. In partnership with California's largest Native American tribe, agencies and corporations, WRC is creating a cold-water sanctuary essential for the survival of coho and Chinook salmon, as well as a sustainable community forest to help revitalize the economy of the Yurok people. The grant leverages an additional $14.7 million in matching contributions for the protection of the property.
The program's 2016 grants will draw an additional $71.5 million in matching contributions, pushing the total conservation investment to more than $74.1 million.
"The projects supported by these grants will protect some of our country's most valuable and productive wildlife habitats," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "The protection of Antelope Flats property, in particular, represents an incredible conservation success for our nation, and one of the most important accomplishments of the Acres for America program."
Acres for America began in 2005, when Walmart made its first commitment of $35 million to purchase and preserve one acre of wildlife habitat in the United States for every acre of land developed by the company. The program has far surpassed that 10-year goal, with more than 1 million acres protected -- an area comparable in size to Grand Canyon National Park.
Through its first 10 years, the competitive grant program leveraged Walmart's initial $35 million investment to generate more than $352 million in matching contributions, for a total conservation impact of approximately $387 million. In 2015, NFWF and Walmart announced a 10-year, $35 million program renewal of the program that is expected to double the total acreage protected.
For additional information about the Acres for America Program, please click here.
For a short video about the Acres for American Program, please click here.
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About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
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.