NFWF and IP Announce more than $550,000 in Funding to Further Conserve and Enhance Louisiana and Texas Forestland

Grants Support Restoration of Southern Forests, Protection of Critical Habitat, Enhancement of Local Economies in Third Year of Landmark Public-Private Partnership

August 25, Beaumont, TX — The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and International Paper (NYSE: IP) today announced $551,900 in grants to support forestland restoration and working forests throughout the Piney Woods on the Louisiana-Texas border. The Texas A&M Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy – Louisiana Chapter will receive grants through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, a partnership of NFWF and IP. These grants will leverage nearly $670,000 in additional funds and in-kind support from agency and project partners, ultimately establishing more than 1,600 acres and enhancing an additional 7,200 acres of longleaf pine forest in the region.

Established in March 2013, the Forestland Stewards Initiative is a pioneering partnership created to conserve and restore southern forestlands representing some of America’s most iconic landscapes. These forests provide critical habitats for endangered wildlife and economic opportunities for local communities. Through the initiative, International Paper has committed $7.5 million over five years to restore native forests, strengthen important fish and wildlife populations, and protect watersheds  — while at the same time promoting and supporting working forests in eight states across the southeastern United States.

“By creating a stakeholder network of diverse organizations, partnerships like the Forestland Stewards Initiative enable International Paper to deliver on our commitment to use natural resources responsibly, thus strengthening the communities where we live and operate,” said Tom Cleves, vice president of corporate social responsibility. “Through a combination of co-ops, land trusts and conservation groups, these grants put the necessary resources in place to really make a difference.”

“The grants announced today will protect and enhance critical forest landscapes throughout the Southeast, improve management of private and public forests, and restore populations of at-risk wildlife and plant species,” said Eric Schwaab, vice president for NFWF’s conservation programs. “The Forestland Stewards Initiative, a landmark partnership between NFWF and International Paper, continues to revitalize some of the nation’s most biologically diverse habitats.”

“The Big Thicket Significant Geographic Area contains some of the best examples of high-quality longleaf pine in the Western Gulf region. This area has been referred to as the ‘biological crossroads of North America,’ with over 1,000 species of flowering plants and more than 300 species of birds residing in this region,” said Hughes Simpson, project manager for the Texas longleaf conservation grant. “The contributions made by IP and NFWF through the Forestland Stewards Initiative will enable us to bring prescribed fire back to this landscape and address a number of other restoration needs that are critical to restoring wildlife habitat.”

Since 2013, NFWF and IP have invested more than $5.4 million in projects through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, and these investments have been used to leverage more than $11.5 million in additional funds from grant partners, for a total investment of nearly $17 million for forestland conservation. These projects will restore more than 14,400 acres and improve nearly 121,000 additional acres of native forest and wildlife habitat. NFWF and IP anticipate that through this initiative, more than 200,000 acres of forestlands will be restored and improved, and more than 3,000 private landowners will be engaged through outreach and technical assistance to implement forest stewardship practices.

The initiative’s latest round of grants will benefit numerous species and support working forests in three priority regions in the Southeast: the Carolina Low Country Forests; the Cumberland Plateau of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee; and the Piney Woods of Texas and Louisiana.

About the Grants:

Coordinating Partner: Texas A&M Forest Service
Title: Facilitating Longleaf Conservation in the Big Thicket Significant Geographic Area (TX) - II
Objective: Restore and enhance longleaf pine, coordinate education and technical assistance, and extend organizational capacity to promote longleaf conservation within the Big Thicket SGA.
Award Amount: $300,000
Project Description: The Texas Longleaf Pine Implementation Team will restore 950 acres to longleaf and enhance over 4,900 acres of existing longleaf through prescribed burning and woody plant control to improve rare and natural plant communities on public and private lands surrounding the Big Thicket National Preserve. Outreach and technical assistance will educate 100 private landowners on longleaf ecology and related resources through county landowner association meetings, landowner workshops, small field workshops, training sessions, and fact sheets. Targeted technical assistance will engage private landowners in stewardship activities to restore and enhance longleaf habitat.
Project Partners: Texas Forestry Association, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Texas A&M Institute Renewable Natural Resources, Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, National Wild Turkey Federation, Campbell Global, Hancock Forest Management, Resource Management Service

Coordinating Partner: The Nature Conservancy – Louisiana Chapter
Title: Pineywoods Longleaf Restoration (LA) - II
Objective: Increase technical assistance capacity to engage private landowners in longleaf restoration and management in west-central Louisiana.
Award Amount: $251,900
Project Description: The West-Central Louisiana Ecosystem Partnership will implement the second phase of the Pineywoods Longleaf Restoration Project in a six-parish conservation area anchored by the Fort Polk/Kisatchie National Forest Significant Geographic Area (SGA). The project will support a conservation delivery specialist to work directly with local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff and improve delivery of Farm Bill cost-share programs, as well as a full-time coordinator to work with partners and private landowners and enhance participation in programs focused on longleaf restoration on private lands. Project efforts will result in the establishment of 680 acres of new longleaf pine and enhancement of an additional 2,300 acres of existing longleaf pine habitat.
Project Partners: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, NRCS, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kisatchie National Forest, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry

Learn more about Forestland Stewards at:

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation:

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nation’s wildlife and habitats. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions. NFWF works with government, nonprofit and corporate partners to find solutions for the most intractable conservation challenges. Over the last three decades, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.9 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at

About International Paper

International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a global leader in packaging and paper with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa. Its businesses include industrial and consumer packaging along with uncoated papers and pulp. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., the company employs approximately 58,000 people and is strategically located in more than 24 countries serving customers worldwide. International Paper net sales for 2014 were $24 billion. For more information about International Paper, its products and stewardship efforts, visit



Rob Blumenthal (NFWF), 202-857-0166
Kim Clewis (International Paper), 910-362-4887, 910-512-0086 (cell)
Mike Smith (GreenSmith PR, Public Relations for NFWF), 703-623-3834

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