USDA Announces New Partnership with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to Support Ongoing Gulf Restoration

NORCO, LA., Oct. 28, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a new partnership between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) that will provide additional support for restoration of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in response to impacts that occurred as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

“The health of the Gulf ecosystem will be decided by how well we treat the private lands that make up most of this region,” Secretary Vilsack said. “This new partnership with NFWF leverages significant funding for restoration in these Gulf States. In addition to our many Farm Bill conservation programs, partnering with NFWF and private landowners will enable us to continue to make progress in this region and achieve our goals for a healthy Gulf ecosystem.”

The new partnership will significantly expand conservation efforts with private landowners and operators who might not otherwise be eligible to participate in existing recovery programs. The partnership will begin with a $20 million investment from NFWF, matched by a $20 million investment from NRCS. Additional commitments of up to $30 million from each partner are possible over the next four years.

“We are pleased and excited to announce this new partnership with USDA,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “This partnership will serve to leverage and to enhance USDA’s commitment to preserve and protect the natural resources that are so important to communities across the region. In the aftermath of recent disasters, such a commitment has never been more vital to ensure the Gulf of Mexico remains a healthy and productive habitat for future generations of Americans to enjoy.”

NFWF, NRCS and other partners will focus on working on private lands to implement conservation projects that will enhance the existing recovery efforts in Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Texas.

Potential projects include:

  • Wetlands conservation;
  • Stream and riparian buffer restoration;
  • Farm and ranch land protection, including the practices that go along with protection, such as improving soil health, implementing no-till farming and enhancing wildlife habitat.

More information on these projects will be available through NRCS offices in the five Gulf states.

In early 2013, a U.S. District Court approved two plea agreements resolving certain criminal cases against BP and Transocean which arose from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. The agreements direct a total of $2.544 billion to NFWF to fund projects benefiting the natural resources of the Gulf Coast that were impacted by the spill.  

This agreement builds on investments that NFWF and NRCS are making in the region. NRCS works side-by-side with farmers, ranchers and private landowners to make improvements to their land, helping clean water and air, enhance habitat and enrich soil. This past year, NRCS worked with farmers, ranchers, and forestland managers in the five Gulf states to improve the health of  more than 3 million acres.

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About 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 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.3 billion to conservation projects. To learn more about NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, please visit www.nfwf.org/gulf.

About USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service: NRCS provides America’s farmers and ranchers with technical and financial assistance to voluntarily put conservation on the ground, not only helping the environment but agricultural operations, too. To learn about NRCS’ Gulf restoration efforts, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/Gulf. For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or a local USDA service center.

 

 Contact:

 

Rob Blumenthal (NFWF)
202-595-2457

Justin Fritscher (USDA)
202-720-5776