NFWF’s Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program Announces Sixth Year of Grants

Projects will restore habitat for forest birds, restore legacy mine lands and improve aquatic connectivity and water quality for brook trout, eastern hellbender and freshwater mussels

Cerulean warbler

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 18, 2023) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced more than $3.7 million in grants to restore forest and freshwater habitat in central Appalachia, including projects in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The 11 grants will generate $3.8 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of more than $7.5 million.

The grants were awarded through NFWF’s Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program, with funding from the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Forest Service, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, AstraZeneca, and the Richard King Mellon Foundation, with additional funding provided this year by the Bezos Earth Fund. Two projects supported by the Forest Service received funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the revegetation of mined lands. 

"In our sixth year of administering this program, we are supporting 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 11 grants announced today will improve forest habitats, increase the capacity for monitoring populations of focal bird species such as the golden-winged warbler, reconnect streams that will benefit native eastern brook trout, eastern hellbender and freshwater mussel populations, and improve public access to nature."

"We are pleased to support NFWF’s work to restore the health of ecosystems in Western Pennsylvania and the vitality of the communities that depend on them," said Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. "The results of our partnership over the past 10 years have reinforced our belief in the effectiveness of long-term commitments to science-based targets and strategic prioritization."

Central Appalachia boasts some of the most biologically diverse, temperate deciduous forests in the United States. The projects announced today will plant more than 188,000 native trees and improve management on more than 1,770 acres of public and private forests and develop forest management plans on more than 8,000 acres. This work will benefit declining populations of forest birds, including the golden-winged warbler, wood thrush and cerulean warbler.

"NRCS’s partnership in the Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program is an important example of our mission to help people help the land," said Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Terry Cosby. "Through these innovative projects, we are able to provide producers with the necessary tools to enhance wildlife habitat and improve water quality."

"Legacy mined lands in Central Appalachia deserve to be restored," said Alice Ewen, Forest Service assistant director for cooperative forestry. "We are proud to invest in reforestation to support clean water, improve wildlife habitat and contribute to climate smart solutions." 

"We recognize a healthy environment is fundamental to human health, and we are thrilled our restoration and conservation efforts in partnership with NFWF will have positive, economic benefits for the central Appalachian region," said Joris Silon, U.S. country president, BioPharmaceuticals Business Unit, AstraZeneca.

The rivers and streams of the Appalachian region are globally important habitat for unique and diverse wildlife populations. Projects funded today will remove 18 barriers to fish passage, open more than 43 miles of upstream habitat to brook trout, salamanders and freshwater mussels, restore six miles of streamside forest, and improve four miles of roads to limit sediment input to streams.

"In an era of climate change, it's even more urgent that we invest in projects that benefit forest and freshwater habitats for the people and wildlife that rely on them," said Kyla Hastie, Northeast acting regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "We’re proud to support the foresters, farmers, students, community organizations and others working to improve the health and resilience of the region's forests and waters by planting native trees, creating jobs, and restoring rivers and streams."
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, Virginia and West Virginia. To date, the program has awarded 71 grants totaling more than $13.6 million and leveraged more than $17 million in matching funds.

A complete list of the 2022 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 6,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $7.4 billion. 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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