NFWF Awards more than $800,000 in Grants to Conserve the Southeast’s Cumberland Plateau

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 11​, 2018) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced six conservation grants totaling more than $800,000 to restore, enhance and protect shortleaf pine and riparian forests and in-stream habitats in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. The grants will generate nearly $1.15 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of more than $1.9 million.

In total, the six grants are expected to establish more than 500 acres and improve more than 5,000 additional acres of shortleaf pine and riparian forest habitat in the Cumberland Plateau region, benefitting game species like northern bobwhite quail and wild turkey. The grants will also improve more than 150 miles of in-stream and riparian habitats, improving water quality and restoring habitat connectivity for numerous fish and mussel species. Grantees will engage more than 450 private landowners through technical assistance and outreach. 

The grants were awarded through the ​Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund​, a public-private partnership between NFWF and the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, International Paper’s Forestland Stewards Partnership, American Forest Foundation’s Southern Woods for At-Risk Wildlife Initiative and Altria Group.

A complete list of the 2018 grants made through the Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund is available here​

“The Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund is integral to ensuring forest and stream habitats are restored and remain healthy to support the hundreds of species of plants, animals, fish and mussels that call this region home,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The partnership sustains some of the most biologically rich habitats in the United States, including freshwater species found nowhere else in the world.” 

Located along the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains, the Cumberland Plateau extends from eastern Kentucky through central Tennessee and northern Alabama. The shortleaf pine and oak communities that once dominated these forests have dwindled over the past several decades due to conversion to other forest types, fire suppression, and disease and pest infestations. Loss of these habitats has contributed to the decline of many wildlife species, including early successional and disturbance-associated bird species like Bachman’s sparrow, brown-headed nuthatch and prairie warbler. Many of the region’s freshwater species are threatened by impacts to water quality and habitat loss due to sedimentation and runoff from agriculture and development, as well as impoundments and stream modifications. 

“Active stewardship and conservation progress within the shortleaf pine and riparian forests of Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee are being greatly accelerated due to the Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund,” said Ken Arney, acting regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service’s Southern Region. “The key to measurable gains in these systems are the partnerships and public/private collaboration as demonstrated through this fund.”

“Public-private partnerships are key to habitat conservation efforts, and the Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund is a great example of how such partnerships can benefit the land, the landowners, and the plants and animals that live there,” said Mike Oetker, acting southeast regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The Service is proud to be a part of this effort and looks forward to seeing the results in the years to come.”

“International Paper is proud to make a meaningful impact on this ecologically important forestland,” said Tom Cleves, International Paper’s vice president of global citizenship. “By working with other organizations that share our commitment to sustaining forests, we can continue to promote forest stewardship and ensure healthy and productive forest ecosystems for future generations.”

"Families and individuals want to do right by their land, especially when it comes to wildlife habitat,” said Tom Martin, president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation. "Because these individuals own the majority of the forestland across the South, they are key to helping with restoration. We are excited to continue working with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and our other partners to help these landowners connect with the resources and assistance they need to get the work done."

“Our companies depend on high-quality tobacco and grapes to make their products. From seed to disposal, our companies recognize that they have an important role in reducing their environmental impact,” said Kathryn Fessler, senior director of corporate citizenship for Altria Client Services. “We’re proud to support the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s reforestation and water conservation efforts in the Cumberland Plateau.”

Since 2013, the Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund has invested more than $4.3 million in projects that will establish more than 10,000 acres and improve more than 68,000 additional acres of shortleaf pine and riparian forest, as well as improve 487 miles of stream habitat, benefitting the native species that rely on those forests and streams.  

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 generated a conservation impact of more than $4.8 billion. Learn more at

About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

About International Paper
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a leading global producer of renewable fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper products with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, Europe, North Africa, India and Russia. We produce corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods, and enable worldwide commerce; pulp for diapers, tissue and other personal hygiene products that promote health and wellness and papers that facilitate education and communication. We are headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., and employ approximately 52,000 colleagues located in more than 24 countries. Net sales for 2017 were $22 billion. For more information about International Paper, our products and global citizenship efforts, please visit

About the American Forest Foundation
The American Forest Foundation (AFF), a forest conservation organization, works on the ground with families, partners and elected officials to promote stewardship and protect our nation’s forest heritage. A commitment to the next generation unites our nationwide network of forest owners working to keep our forests healthy and producing the clean water, wildlife habitat and sustainable wood supplies that all Americans count on from forests.

About Altria Group
Altria Group is a Fortune 200 company located in Richmond, Va. Our companies include some of the most enduring names in American business: Philip Morris USA, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, the maker of Copenhagen and Skoal. We also own John Middleton, manufacturer of Black & Mild cigars, Nat Sherman, a super-premium cigarette and cigar business and Nu Mark, an innovation company that makes e-vapor products like Mark Ten. We complement our total tobacco platform with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, a collection of distinctive wine estates and maker of Chateau Ste. Michelle, and our significant equity investment in Anheuser-Busch InBev – the world's largest brewer.