Wood thrush

NFWF Announces Third Year of Grants from the Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program

$1.5 million will fund 11 grants to restore habitat for forest birds, brook trout and hellbender

Wood thrush

​PETERSBURG, PA. (Dec. 10, 2019) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced more than $1.5 million in grants to restore forest and freshwater habitat in central Appalachia, including Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The grants will generate more than $1.8 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of more than $3.4 million.

The grants were awarded through NFWF’s Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program, which receives funding from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), USDA’s Forest Service, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Forest Foundation, Shell Oil Company, and in western Pennsylvania, the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

“Collectively, the eleven grants we announce today will improve habitat for some of the region’s most iconic species, including eastern brook trout, hellbender and wood thrush,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “This work is possible through an impressive partnership of public and private sector organizations who all are committed to protecting and restoring this region’s rich natural heritage.” 

“Through our collaboration with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we are able to support environmental organizations that do meaningful work in our communities to help fish and wildlife throughout the region,” said Shell Appalachia GM, Tonya Williams. “It’s work that leads to sustainable, long-lasting improvements in the communities near our business.”

Central Appalachia boasts some of the most biologically diverse, temperate deciduous forests in the United States. The projects announced today will enable more than 400 different landowners to improve management on more than 3,100 acres of public and private forests. This work will benefit declining populations of forest birds, including the golden-winged warbler, wood thrush and cerulean warbler.

“Through our partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we are able to maximize resources to achieve our shared goal of improving forest conditions to support wildlife habitat on state and private lands,” said Bob Lueckel, Acting Eastern Regional Forester, USDA Forest Service. “The Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship program illustrates how a robust partnership program with shared interests produces results that one entity alone could not achieve. We look forward to future collaboration with NFWF and the positive outcomes from our working together to restore and sustain healthy forests.” 

The rivers and streams of the Appalachian region also are globally important habitat for unique and diverse wildlife populations, including brook trout, salamanders and a wide variety of freshwater mussels. Projects funded today will restore 10 miles of streamside forest, open up more than 25 miles of upstream habitat to fish, reintroduce 100,000 freshwater mussels to the Clinch River watershed, and create nesting habitat for the giant salamander, eastern hellbender.

“Healthy and resilient forests, rivers, and streams not only benefit wildlife. They also provide clean air and water, outdoor recreation, and sustainable landscapes to keep working lands working,” said Wendi Weber, North-Atlantic-Appalachian Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We are proud to be a partner in this collaborative effort to keep central Appalachia thriving well into the future.”

The Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program was established in 2017 and invests in science-based, on-the-ground restoration and planning to restore the quality of forest and freshwater habitats in the Central Appalachian region, including portions of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. To date the program has awarded 35 grants totaling more than $4.7 million, and leveraged $5.8 million in matching funds.

“When we are making management decisions to keep our forests and landscapes resilient and rich with a diversity of species, it’s important to have good science,” Pennsylvania DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “We appreciate these NFWF grants to our partners in Pennsylvania as we work together toward that goal.”

A complete list of the 2019 grants made through the Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program is available here​.

To learn more about the Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program, please follow this link to view a short video

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 4,500 organizations and committed more than $5.3 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at​.