​​ NFWF Announces $2 Million in Grants to Benefit Forests and Wetlands within the Greater Mississippi Alluvial Valley

Six grants support efforts to restore, enhance and protect more than 10,000 acres of forest and wetland habitats, benefiting wildlife and water quality

Kentucky warbler
Kentucky warbler 

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (June 11, 2019) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced six conservation grants totaling $2 million to restore, enhance and protect forest and wetland habitats in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (LMAV). The grants will generate $2.3 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of nearly $4.3 million across Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

“NFWF’s investments are a critical catalyst in restoring and managing the vast forested wetlands of the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The grants we announce today will enhance habitat for an array of fish and wildlife species, improve the river system’s health through restored hydrological function, and benefit communities by providing cleaner water and supporting local economies.” 

The grants were awarded through the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Restoration Fund (LMAV Fund), a partnership between NFWF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service, with private funding from International Paper’s Forestland Stewards Partnership, the Walton Family Foundation and the American Forest Foundation’s Southern Woods for At-Risk Wildlife Initiative.

“We are excited that NRCS and the U.S. Forest Service are contributing to this private lands restoration effort in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley,” said Homer Wilkes, director of the USDA Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Team. “Through this, we hope to build on previous conservation efforts as well as expand them across the diverse communities of this culturally and agriculturally rich area.”

“Through partnerships such as Forestland Stewards, International Paper will continue to lead the world in responsible forest stewardship,” said Tom Cleves, International Paper’s vice president of global citizenship. “We remain committed to supporting wildlife, communities, and the private landowners who depend on these bottomland hardwood forests and wetlands for the natural resources and benefits they provide.”

The LMAV Fund was established by NFWF in 2017 to restore, enhance and conserve bottomland hardwood forest and wetland habitats. The fund’s work benefits local communities by improving forest health, enhancing wildlife habitat, and increasing water quality within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. It is anticipated that the funding opportunity will solicit a request for proposals on an annual basis. 

“Environmental solutions that generate economic benefits are the ones that stand the test of time,” said Moira McDonald, director of the Mississippi River initiative at the Walton Family Foundation. “These restoration projects benefit water quality, wildlife and forest health while also providing bottom line or economic benefits for landowners. We’re proud so support this work that brings together philanthropic, private and public sector partners for the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.”

Consisting of more than 24 million acres of forested wetlands with rich alluvial soils, the Mississippi Alluvial Valley is a hotspot for biological diversity. The Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley provides an important migratory stopover and wintering habitat for over 40 percent of North America's waterfowl. It is also home to more than 100 fish species and 107 breeding land birds. However, widespread conversion of forests to farmland combined with flood control and drainage efforts has led to critical habitat loss for wildlife, damaged water quality and reduced floodwater retention. The LMAV Fund is an effort to restore these habitats for the benefit of wildlife and people.  

“Nearly 60 percent of the forests across Mississippi are owned by family and private forest owners, making them a key group who can help address conservation challenges,” said Tom Martin, president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation. “What’s more, these individuals care about wildlife and want to do right by the land. We are proud to be a part of the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Restoration Fund to help forest owners get the support and resources they need to get started stewarding their land and improving habitat.” 

A complete list of the 2019 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 and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,500 organizations and generated a conservation impact of more than $5.3 billion. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.

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 world-wide 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., employ more than 52,000 colleagues and serve more than 25,000 customers in 150 countries. Net sales for 2018 were $23 billion. For more information about International Paper, our products and global citizenship efforts, please visit internationalpaper.com.

About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. The children and grandchildren of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, 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. In 2017, the foundation awarded more than $535 million in grants in support of these initiatives. To learn more, visit waltonfamilyfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

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 Contact:

 

Rob Blumenthal, 202-857-0166

 

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