NFWF Announces $4.1 Million in Conservation Grants Awarded throughout Central Appalachia 

Ten grants awarded through Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program will bolster native aquatic, mussel and bird populations

Cerulean warbler

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 21, 2023) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and partners today announced $4.1 million in grants to reforest legacy mine lands, improve forest habitat management for birds, implement riparian buffers on agricultural lands and restore aquatic connectivity in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The grants will generate $3.7 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $7.8 million.

The grants were awarded through the Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program (CAHSP), a partnership between NFWF and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Forest Service, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, AstraZeneca and Cleveland-Cliffs. 

“Seven years into this program, we continue to support a variety of strategies that will ensure a better future for the native species of the Central Appalachian region,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The 10 grants announced today will restore streamside forest habitats to improve water quality, revegetate abandoned mind lands, increase the capacity for monitoring populations of focal bird species such as the cerulean warbler, reconnect streams to benefit native eastern brook trout, eastern hellbender and freshwater mussel populations, and bolster populations of freshwater mussels through propagation and release.”

“We are grateful to be part of the Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program, and we are gratified to see, through this initiative and others, growing recognition of the pivotal importance of Central Appalachia and its essential ecological, economic and cultural value,” said Sam Reiman, Director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “We salute the visionary partners funded by these grants for their determination to bring this great region the prosperity and health it deserves. And we urge like-minded funders to join in this important work.”

Central Appalachia boasts some of the most biologically diverse forests and aquatic systems in the United States. The projects announced today will plant more than 164,000 native trees, restore 16 miles of streamside forest, remove nine barriers to fish passage and propagate and release more than 97,000 freshwater mussels into their historic habitat This work will also benefit declining populations of forest birds, including the golden-winged warbler, wood thrush and cerulean warbler.

“America’s farms, ranches, and private forests provide important wildlife and aquatic habitat, carbon sequestration, and water quality benefits,” said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “The public-private partnerships sustained by these grants will help support farmers and ranchers as they enhance these ecosystem services through voluntary conservation.”

“The Forest Service is proud to partner with Appalachian communities to restore and revitalize forests that are safeguards of biodiversity,” said Alice Ewen, Forest Service Assistant Director for Cooperative Forestry. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and our partnership with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we're able to help private landowners recover their land from the impacts of mining, secure clean water, promote wildlife habitat and restore scenic beauty to high priority landscapes.”

“Recognizing the deep interconnection between human and planetary health, we’re proud to partner with NFWF to drive climate action, foster biodiversity and contribute to community resilience in Central Appalachia,” said Joris Silon, U.S. Country President, BioPharmaceuticals Business Unit, AstraZeneca.

The Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program was established in 2017 and has invested in 81 science-based, on-the-ground restoration and planning projects to restore the quality of forest and freshwater habitats in the central Appalachian region, including portions of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. To date, the program has awarded grants totaling more than $17.7 million and leveraged by more than $20 million in matching contributions from grantees for a total of $37.7 million in on-the-ground conservation impact.

A complete list of the 2023 grants made through the Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program 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 $8.1 billion. NFWF is an equal opportunity provider. Learn more at

About the Richard King Mellon Foundation
Founded in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation is the largest foundation in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and one of the 50 largest in the world. The Foundation’s 2021 year-end net assets were $3.4 billion, and its Trustees in 2021 disbursed $152 million in grants and program-related investments. The Foundation focuses its funding on six primary program areas, delineated in its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan.

About the Natural Resources Conservation Service
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides one-on-one, personalized advice on the best solutions to meet the unique conservation and business goals of those who grow our nation’s food and fiber. NRCS helps landowners make investments in their operations and local communities to keep working lands working, boost rural economies, increase the competitiveness of American agriculture, and improve the health of our air, water, and soil. NRCS also generates, manages, and shares the data, research and standards that enable partners and policymakers to make decisions informed by objective, reliable science. In simpler terms, NRCS’s focus is “Helping People Help the Land.” For more information, visit

About the U.S. Forest Service
Established in 1905, the U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 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 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit

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



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