NFWF Awards $2.6 Million to Restore Forested Wetland Habitats in Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley
Habitat for Louisiana black bear, forest birds and waterfowl to be restored with support from six new grants
WASHINGTON, D.C., (June 28, 2022) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced nearly $2.6 million in grants to restore, enhance and protect ecologically important forest and wetland habitats in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. The grants will leverage $4.5 million in matching contributions to generate a total conservation impact of $7.1 million.
The grants were awarded through the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Restoration Fund (LMAV Fund), a partnership between NFWF and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, International Paper’s Forestland Stewards Partnership, and the Walton Family Foundation, with additional support this year from the Bezos Earth Fund. These projects will support restoration efforts within the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley region of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
“These six projects will expand current restoration efforts to restore bottomland hardwood forests, wetlands and floodplain habitats on both private lands and public lands,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “We are five years into funding work across boundaries to scale up restoration efforts that benefit waterfowl, forest birds and other wildlife. Local communities and landowners will see tremendous benefits as well, from better hunting and fishing opportunities to improved water quality, natural carbon sequestration and reduced flooding.”
Projects supported by the six grants announced today will restore wetland and floodplain hydrology, improve management of existing bottomland hardwood forests, and reforest floodplain and wetland areas that were previously cleared for other land uses. Since more than 80 percent of the region’s forests are in private ownership, grantees will engage private landowners in restoration efforts through outreach and technical assistance. Projects will increase and improve forested wetland habitat and connect existing forests, providing travel corridors for wide-ranging species such as the Louisiana black bear. Collectively, the funded projects will:
- Plant 1.3 million trees to create and connect forest habitat and increase carbon capture and storage – this is 65 times more trees than Central Park in New York City.
- Restore 2,500 acres of wetland and floodplain habitat, benefitting myriad species – 40 percent of all species live or breed in wetlands.
- Enhance more than 1,200 acres of existing forest to improve habitat conditions – an area equal to more than 900 football fields.
“We are proud to support these projects to restore forested wetland habitat and connect existing forests to help provide corridors for wildlife movement,” said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “The efforts to protect habitat for wildlife also benefit landowners and the surrounding communities by improving water, air and soil quality and creating economic opportunities through recreation.”
“These National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant opportunities are critical for continuing the large-scale restoration efforts in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley,” said Leopoldo Miranda-Castro, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional director. “We remain committed to the private landowners and other partners that are restoring, enhancing, and connecting forest and wetlands to sustain and conserve hundreds of species, protect soils and waters and keep working lands working. Projects planned and supported by these funds will help to continue this amazing work for the plants and animals of the region, and will contribute a large part towards conserving America's lands and waters for the benefit of all people.”
Spanning more than 24 million acres, the Mississippi Alluvial Valley is the largest wetland ecosystem in the United States. The region’s oxbow lakes, forested wetlands and other habitat types host a rich array of wildlife. More than 40 percent of North America’s waterfowl use the region’s habitats for a migration stopover and wintering habitat and 107 breeding land birds utilize the forest habitats. More than 100 fish species are found in the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
However, extensive forest loss, combined with flood control and wetland drainage efforts, has significantly decreased wildlife habitat, degraded water quality, and reduced the flood storage capacity of wetlands and floodplains. Partners have had great success in increasing forest cover in in the region, but many forests planted years ago are overgrown and thick and need to be thinned to improve conditions for wildlife. Now in its fifth year of competitive grant making, the LMAV Fund supports projects that restore, enhance, and manage bottomland hardwood forests and wetlands, and promote aquatic connectivity on private and public lands. The fund’s work benefits local communities by improving forest health, enhancing wildlife habitat, increasing water quality, and supporting jobs associated with these projects within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.
“As part of International Paper’s Vision 2030 goal of restoring and conserving one million acres of ecologically significant forestland, we are proud to support these six projects to restore and maintain healthy hardwood forests and wetlands in the LMAV,” said Jeremy Poirier, International Paper manager of fiber certification and sustainability. “The ecosystems in this geography sequester carbon, improve water quality and provide critical habitat for thousands of plant and animal species, including one of the most important US migratory flyways for waterfowl and neotropical birds. Sustaining healthy working forests today and for future generations is at the core of who we are as a company and our Forestland Steward partnership is a testament to this commitment.”
“Reforestation and water health are deeply connected. The tree plantings that are part of this work will have a huge impact on soil and ecosystems of the region, which creates better outcomes for water resources across the lower half of the Mississippi River,” said Moira Mcdonald, director of the Walton Family Foundation’s Environment Program. “Wetlands also help to naturally filter water. Collectively, this work is about working with the power of nature to help keep water healthier so that people and nature can thrive together. We’re excited about this partnership, and grateful to everyone involved.”
A complete list of the 2022 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, 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 www.nfwf.org.
About the Natural Resources Conservation Service
Since 1935, the Natural Resources Conservation Service has helped America’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners voluntarily conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources. NRCS provides technical assistance based on sound science and offers financial assistance for conservation activities, not only helping the environment but also agricultural producers.
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 fws.gov.
About International Paper
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a leading global supplier of renewable fiber-based products. We produce corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods, and enable worldwide commerce, and pulp for diapers, tissue and other personal care products that promote health and wellness. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., we employ approximately 38,000 colleagues globally. We serve customers worldwide, with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, North Africa and Europe. Net sales for 2021 were $19.4 billion. See how we’re building a better future for people, the planet, and our company at internationalpaper.com/Vision-2030.
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.
Rob Blumenthal, 202-857-0166, firstname.lastname@example.org