NFWF Announces $646,000 in Conservation Grants to Support Important Water-Dependent Species in the Southeast

Four projects will assist in restoring and improving aquatic habitat within targeted watersheds 

Black warrior waterdog. Credit: James C. Godwin, Alabama Natural Heritage Program.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 30, 2021) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $646,000 in grants that will restore and enhance aquatic habitats to protect imperiled native freshwater aquatic species in watersheds within Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. The grants will generate $648,000 in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of nearly $1.3 million.

The grants were awarded through the Southeast Aquatics Fund, a partnership between NFWF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Southern Company.

“The Southeast Aquatics Fund is providing key support to help protect and restore the unique aquatic biodiversity found only in the Southeast,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Species and their habitats supported by these grants are bellwethers for the long-term health of the waters and streams that define this diverse landscape.”

The projects supported by the four grants announced today will conduct outreach and provide technical assistance to private landowners and agricultural producers to implement conservation practices, improve connectivity of aquatic habitat through removal of a significant barrier, and restore in-stream habitat conditions to benefit native aquatic species populations. In total, these projects will benefit 12 miles of stream habitat; improve management of 475 acres of working lands and riparian habitat; and help to conserve a diverse group of species including the black warrior waterdog, flattened musk turtle, bridled darter, trispot darter, blue shiner, Alabama rainbow and Coosa creekshell.

“Our region has immense aquatic biodiversity, including many species found nowhere else. The projects supported by these grants will improve habitat and protect water quality in critical watersheds, benefiting the people living in nearby communities and the aquatic flora and fauna inhabiting these waters,” said Regional Forester Ken Arney with the USDA Forest Service Southern Region.

“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 Service’s Regional Director for the South Atlantic-Gulf and Mississippi Basin Regions. “Restoration efforts in these focal areas help recover several listed species as well as 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.”

Guided by NFWF’s Longleaf Forest and Rivers Business Plan, these projects will take place within the Locust Fork and Big Canoe Creek watersheds in Alabama, the Conasauga River watershed in Georgia and Tennessee, and the Lower Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin in Georgia. The projects announced today will address key threats impacting aquatic species, providing benefits for the extraordinary aquatic biodiversity found in these watersheds of the Southeast. 

“NRCS is committed to helping all private landowners and agricultural producers implement conservation practices that benefit fish and wildlife populations and the overall productivity of their land,” said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “The projects announced today, in partnership with NFWF and the Southeast Aquatics Fund, will provide vital support to protect and restore unique aquatic wildlife populations and improve the long-term health of the waters and biodiversity of the Southeast.” 

“Supporting the Southeast Aquatics Fund is one way Southern Company does our part to restore critical watersheds and the aquatic species that make their homes in these waters,” said Jeff Burleson Southern Company senior vice president of environmental and system planning. “This conservation work is good for water, species and communities.”

Launched in 2017, the Southeast Aquatics Fund is a competitive grants program that supports watershed-based restoration to improve the health of aquatic systems and secure populations of native freshwater aquatic species. Including this year’s grants, the program has awarded more than $5.2 million to 31 conservation projects expected to benefit more than 60 miles of stream habitat.

A complete list of the 2021 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 and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 5,000 organizations and generated a conservation impact of $6.8 billion. Learn more at

About the U.S. Forest Service

The mission of the USDA 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 Forest Service manages 193 million acres of forest lands with tribal governments, state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forest 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 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. Learn more at

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, Forbes and the Women’s Choice Award. To learn more, visit



Rob Blumenthal, 202-857-0166,