NFWF Announces $1.1 Million in Grants to Support Conservation of Important Freshwater Species in the Southeast United States

Five projects will assist in restoring habitat and benefit species within targeted watersheds 

Mississippi rough shiners. Photo by Isaac Szabo.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 8, 2022) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced $1.1 million in grants today that will restore and enhance aquatic habitats to improve populations of imperiled native freshwater aquatic species within watersheds in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina. The grants will leverage $1.1 million in matching contributions to generate a total conservation impact of nearly $2.2 million. 

The grants were awarded through the Southeast Aquatics Fund, a competitive grant program and public-private partnership with funding provided this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southern Company and the Altria Group. 

“This year’s grant slate represents a major step forward in conserving the incredible aquatic biodiversity of Southeastern rivers and streams,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Once implemented, this array of projects will improve and restore habitats to aid numerous species and provide critical information to help guide future investments to support ongoing voluntary conservation efforts.” 

The projects supported by the grants announced today will implement a suite of strategies, including:

  • Providing outreach and assistance to private landowners and agricultural producers to implement conservation practices that improve water quality 
  • Restoring streambanks and riparian areas
  • Providing vital information about species and habitat threats to prioritize future restoration activities

In total these projects will improve more than 2,600 acres of working lands and riparian habitat and benefit a host of aquatic species including the Black Warrior waterdog, flattened musk turtle, bridled darter, trispot darter, blue shiner, Alabama rainbow and Coosa creekshell.

“The Forest Service is proud to support the Southeast Aquatics Fund. This ongoing partnership benefits the region’s remarkable aquatic biodiversity,” said Ken Arney, Forest Service regional forester for the Southern Region. “Partnering with private landowners is key to habitat restoration, which results in greater strides towards species recovery.”

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proud to support aquatic conservation efforts in the species rich region of the southeast,” said Leopoldo Miranda-Castro, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional director for the South Atlantic-Gulf and Mississippi Basin Regions. “Restoration efforts in these focal areas will help recover several listed species and conserve many at-risk species that can only be found in this region. These efforts also help to keep forests and other lands working for our partners in conservation.”

Projects will take place within priority watersheds of the Alabama, Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint and Mobile-Tombigbee river basins in Alabama and Georgia, and the Pee Dee river basin in North Carolina. Guided by NFWF’s Longleaf Forest and Rivers Business Plan, the projects will address key threats impacting the freshwater habitats and species in these watersheds, supporting the tremendous aquatic biodiversity of the Southeastern region.

“Supporting the Southeast Aquatics Fund is one way we do our part to restore critical watersheds,” said Jesalyn McCurry, Southern Company environmental stewardship manager. “Focusing on freshwater conservation produces work that is good for species, water and communities.”

Launched in 2017, the Southeast Aquatics Fund supports voluntary watershed-based restoration and improved management to improve the health of aquatic systems and secure populations of native freshwater aquatic species. Including this year’s grants, the program has awarded $8 million to 38 conservation projects expected to benefit nearly 500,000 acres of working lands and riparian areas and over 60 miles of stream habitat.

A complete list of the 2022 grants made through the Southeast Aquatics Fund is available here.    

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate, foundation and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 6,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $7.4 billion. Learn more at

About the U.S. Forest Service

The mission of the Forest Service 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 agency manages public lands in the form of national forests and grasslands, provides technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies and makes up the largest forestry research organization in the world.

About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

About Southern Company

Southern Company (NYSE:SO) is a leading energy company serving 9 million customers through its subsidiaries. The company provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy through electric operating companies in three states, natural gas distribution companies in four states, a competitive generation company serving wholesale customers across America, a leading distributed energy infrastructure company, a fiber optics network and telecommunications services. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and affordable prices below the national average. For more than a century, we have been building the future of energy and developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including carbon-free nuclear, advanced carbon capture technologies, natural gas, renewables, energy efficiency and storage technology. Through an industry-leading commitment to innovation and a low-carbon future, Southern Company and its subsidiaries develop the customized energy solutions our customers and communities require to drive growth and prosperity. Our uncompromising values ensure we put the needs of those we serve at the center of everything we do and govern our business to the benefit of our world. Our corporate culture and hiring practices have been recognized nationally by the U.S. Department of Defense, G.I. Jobs magazine, DiversityInc, Black Enterprise, Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, Forbes and the Women’s Choice Award. To learn more, visit



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