2017 Southern Company Partnership Meeting

Hosted by Southern Company, Alabama Power and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the 14th annual Stewardship Partners Meeting hosted more than 170 participants from April 4-5 in Montgomery, Alabama. The NFWF-Southern Company partners meeting is an annual gathering of conservation partners in the southeast from interests including NGOs, government agencies, private industry and educational institutions. Weren’t able to make it this year? An overview of the presentations is available below.
Presentations  |  Speaker Biographies
A Quick Overview of 14,000 Years of Alabama Environmental History 
The first people arrived in Alabama at the end of the last period of Ice Age glacial expansion. This presentation reviews human relationships to the land during the time that followed in terms of broad epochs of change and explore how practices of the past helped shape the world in which we live today.
Edwin Bridges, Author and Director Emeritus, Alabama Department of Archives and History 
Regional Perspective
This presentation discusses the latest thinking on current trends and issues around wildlife conservation in the Southeast from a key federal agency leader.
Mike Oetker, Deputy Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region  
Beyond the Grass Stage: Next Steps for the Longleaf Stewardship Fund and America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative  
In 2012, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Southern Company joined forces with four federal agencies to form the Longleaf Stewardship Fund, ramp up funding and accelerate efforts to restore eight million acres of longleaf pine by 2025. Last year marked five years of grant making for the fund. The partners have awarded 94 grants totaling more than $18.6 million to projects that will impact nearly 850,000 acres of longleaf habitat to date.
Recent data shows that longleaf acreage is increasing across the South, but is the partnership on pace to reach this goal by 2025? This presentation provides an update on progress towards the goal, highlights recently identified "game changers" to speed up the pace of restoration and reflects on the current role and future opportunities for the fund to advance and accelerate longleaf restoration.
Jim Guldin, Supervisory Research Ecologist and Project Leader, U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station
Case Studies Panel Discussion: The Role and Evolution of Local Implementation Teams 
This discussion highlights two local implementation teams working to restore longleaf pine within high priority geographies including the role of the coordinator to advance and grow the partnerships, additions of key and non-traditional partners that have contributed to new ideas and conservation opportunities and the role of the Southern Company/NFWF partnership in supporting these efforts.
Moderator: Jim Guldin

LuAnn Craighton, Outreach Director and Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy - Georgia Chapter 
Brent Widener, Lead Natural Resources Specialist and Acting Chief, Fort Benning Dr. Dwight McLaurin, Owner, McLaurin Farms
Case Study 2: Lessons from Public and Private Land Restoration on the Florida Panhandle
Brian Pelc, Restoration Project Manager, The Nature Conservancy, North Florida Program 
Bonnie Stine, Cooperative Forestry Assistance Supervisor, Florida Forest Service 
John Dunlap, District Wildlife Biologist, Apalachicola National Forest, U.S. Forest Service
Data, Dollars and Dynamic Partnerships: Building a More Effective Private Lands Program
Building relationships and trust with private landowners takes time, resources and the right partners, especially in the South where working forests and habitat for at-risk species often overlap. Additionally, understanding what motivates forest landowners to implement conservation practices on their lands is critical to crafting the right message, providing the most appropriate technical assistance and connecting them with financial assistance programs that can tip the scale towards restoration action. This session highlights efforts to better utilize data to reach and appeal to forest landowners, build partnerships and capacity to sustain long-term relationships with landowners, and strategically maximize available resources and programs to keep family forests working while also conserving at-risk species. 
Moderator: Chris Erwin, Director, Woodland Conservation, American Forest Foundation
Panelists: Claude Jenkins, Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Wildlife Federation
Steve Musser, Assistant State Conservationist, Alabama Natural Resources Conservation Service
Mike Harris, Coordinator, At-Risk Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region
Chris Isaacson, Executive Vice President, Alabama Forestry Association
Power of Flight: Conservation Accomplishments for Selected Species and the Road Ahead
In 2003, Southern Company and NFWF launched their longstanding partnership with the Power of Flight, seeking to support projects and initiatives that would benefit and bolster the populations of imperiled bird species native to the South. Over the past thirteen years, Power of Flight partnership has invested over $3.7 million in bird conservation through 87 grants, translating into nearly $23 million in on-the-ground restoration and increased public awareness of Southern bird populations and habitats. In this session, grantees highlight progress made in addressing key bird conservation issues and discuss the future direction of their work. 
Moderator: Holly Bamford, Chief Conservation Officer, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Mapping Migratory Bird Habitat along the Gulf 
The Gulf of Mexico provides critical stopover habitat for many of North America’s migratory birds. Unfortunately, rapid habitat loss and degradation – exacerbated by recent large-scale events – accentuates the need to develop Gulf-wide conservation priorities. In this session, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center head discusses the center’s efforts using weather radar and citizen-collected data to map birds’ distribution, abundance, timing and habitat during their spring and fall migrations around the Gulf. This assessment will help identify and characterize priority sites and habitats for conservation. Ultimately, the work will result in decision-support maps to aid conservation planners and policymakers as they work to develop Gulf-wide conservation priorities for migratory birds. 
Pete Marra, Director, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center 
Red-cockaded Woodpeckers  |  Presentation 1 Presentation 2
Since 2003, the Power of Flight partnership has supported strategic red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) habitat restoration and translocation, significantly accelerating the pace of recovery for this iconic endangered species. This session provides an update on recovery status, how Southern Company and NFWF’s partnership is contributing to overall recovery efforts, and emerging innovations and trends for recovery work. This session also highlights a project supported through Power of Flight to restore a self-sustaining population of RCWs on the Enon and Sehoy plantations – 20,000 acres of privately-owned forestland that is being restored and managed for longleaf pine habitat. 
Ralph Costa, Wildlife Biologist, RCWO LLC and Milliken Forestry Co., Inc. 
Eric Spadgenske, Alabama State Coordinator, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program
Whooping Cranes
"Journey of the Whooping Crane" is a documentary produced for Georgia Public Broadcasting that introduces viewers to some of the individuals who assisted this recovery. At 5 feet tall and with a wingspan over 7 feet, the endangered whooping crane is North America’s tallest bird. Sadly, habitat loss and hunting in the late 1800’s reduced this iconic crane’s population to just 15 birds by 1940. Since then, a broad coalition of NGOs, private interests and government agencies have worked to nurture the remaining wild and captive flocks to its current population of about 600 birds. The session highlights Operation Migration’s continuing reintroduction and outreach efforts to conserve whooping cranes and build a self-sustaining Eastern population.
Joe Duff, Co-founder and CEO, Operation Migration
Rhett Turner, Producer, Director and Founder, Red Sky Productions
Seeing is Believing: Storytelling Through Photography
A picture is worth a thousand words, so the saying goes. In today’s world of sound bites and social media, competition for attention is fierce and connecting stakeholders, donors and the general public with conservation efforts is critical to building and sustaining support. Many conservation projects have a great story to tell and good imagery is one way to make the case. This session will cover the "do’s and don’ts" of effective photography and provide tips for framing better photos to convey what’s important and exciting about a conservation project. Bring your camera and your creative eye as there will be a competition for the best photo taken during the field tour on Thursday!
Matt Winter, Creative Director, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation