NFWF Announces $3.3 Million in Grants to Benefit Forests, Wetlands and Wildlife in the Greater Mississippi Alluvial Valley

Public-private partnership funds nine projects to restore, enhance and protect more than 20,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forest and wetland habitats, benefiting wildlife and water quality

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Washington, D.C. (June 16, 2021) –The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $3.3 million in grants to restore, enhance and protect the sensitive forest, wetland and aquatic habitats in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. The grants will leverage $2.8 million in matching contributions to generate a total conservation impact of $6.1 million.

The grants were awarded through the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Restoration Fund (LMAV Fund), a partnership between NFWF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, International Paper’s Forestland Stewards Partnership, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Arbor Day Foundation. These projects will support restoration efforts within the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley region of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, as well as the greater Mississippi Alluvial Valley region of Oklahoma and Texas.

“The nine grants announced today will expand and reconnect forest and wetland habitats within the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley that are critical to sustaining populations of Louisiana black bears, waterfowl and a variety of forest birds and other species,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF.

“These projects will also benefit communities throughout the valley, by improving water quality and increasing natural carbon capture and storage. None of this would be possible without the support of our partners in the public and private sector.” 

Projects supported by the nine grants announced today will restore forested wetland habitat through tree planting and hydrological restoration. Additionally, projects will protect bottomland hardwood habitat with conservation easements and improve forest habitat quality through thinnings and invasive species control. Grantees will monitor species’ response to sustainable management practices to help assess progress toward conservation goals. Collectively, the funded projects will:

  • Plant 3.6 million trees to create and connect forest habitat and increase carbon capture and storage
  • Restore 8,000 acres of wetland and floodplain habitat benefitting myriad species
  • Enhance more than 4,000 acres of existing forest to improve habitat conditions
  • Protect 16,000 acres of forest and wetland habitat with conservation easements 

“These grants are a direct result of the strong public and private partnerships NRCS has with organizations focused on habitat restoration and wildlife species protection in the treasured Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley,” said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “The conservation projects and implementation of conservation practices across this specific region will positively impact and advance improvements to water quality, forest habitat, carbon sequestration and wildlife populations.”

“The Mississippi Alluvial Valley is a high-priority conservation area for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Leopoldo Miranda-Castro, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Regional Director. “The planned projects supported by these funds will help connect lands and waters to sustain not only migratory birds but also many of the Service’s other trust species, to include numerous threatened and endangered species, migratory fish species and the ecosystems that these species depend on for survival. Restoring the ecological integrity to this region bolsters the resiliency of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley—a benefit for all species that live there.”

Once the largest forested wetland ecosystem in North America, the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley is a 24-million-acre floodplain consisting of an intricate system of forested wetlands, oxbow lakes and other habitat types that collectively support rich biodiversity. Stretching from the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers at Cairo, Illinois, to the northern edge of the Gulf of Mexico, the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley provides an important migratory stopover and wintering habitat for more than 40 percent of North America’s waterfowl. It is also home to more than 100 fish species and 107 breeding land birds. 

However, widespread forest conversion, combined with flood control and drainage efforts, has led to critical habitat loss for wildlife, damaged water quality and reduced floodwater retention. Launched in 2017, the LMAV Fund is a competitive grant program that supports restoration, enhancement, and management of bottomland hardwood forests and wetlands and promotes aquatic connectivity on private and public lands. The fund’s work benefits local communities by improving forest health, enhancing wildlife habitat and increasing water quality, and supporting jobs associated with these projects within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. 

“Healthy forest ecosystems play a critical role in water quality, clean air, biodiversity and in supporting the estimated 300 million people worldwide who depend on them for their livelihoods,” said International Paper chief sustainability officer Sophie Beckham. “And just as important, healthy forests are a critical component of any natural climate solution. We are thrilled to support this necessary work taking place in the LMAV that has so many benefits for people and the planet.”

“This work is yet another proof point that we can find solutions for nature and people to thrive together,” said Moira Mcdonald, director of the Walton Family Foundation Environment Program. “When government, community leaders, the private sector and philanthropy all pull in the same direction, we can drive meaningful change for ecosystems and the people who rely on them.” 

“The Arbor Day Foundation is thrilled to support planting in the Mississippi River Valley, as the river is one of our most essential and precious sources of freshwater,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “With the simple act of planting trees, we will improve the water quality over time and preserve the wildlife and biodiversity of this vital region.”

A complete list of the 2021 grants made through the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Restoration 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, and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 5,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $6.8 billion. Learn more at

About the Natural Resources Conservation Service
Since 1935, the Natural Resources Conservation Service has helped America’s private landowners and managers conserve their soil, water and other natural resources. NRCS provides technical assistance based on sound science and offers financial assistance for many conservation activities.

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 International Paper
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a leading global producer of renewable fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper products with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, Europe, North Africa and Russia. We produce corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods, and enable world-wide commerce; pulp for diapers, tissue and other personal hygiene products that promote health and wellness; and papers that facilitate education and communication. We are headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., employ approximately 48,000 colleagues and serve more than 25,000 customers in 150 countries. Net sales for 2020 were $21 billion. For more information about International Paper, our products and global citizenship efforts, please visit See how we’re building a better future for people, the planet and our company at

About Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About the Arbor Day Foundation
Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with more than one million members, supporters and valued partners. Since 1972, more than 400 million Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted in neighborhoods, communities, cities and forests throughout the world. Our vision is to help others understand and use trees as a solution to many of the global issues we face today, including air quality, water quality, climate change, deforestation, poverty and hunger.

As one of the world's largest operating conservation foundations, the Arbor Day Foundation, through its members, partners and programs, educates and engages stakeholders and communities across the globe to involve themselves in its mission of planting, nurturing and celebrating trees. More information is available at

Rob Blumenthal, 202-857-0166,