Monday, December 21, 2009

Southern Company, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Award New Conservation Grants

/PRNewswire/ -- Southern Company and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation today announced that six new and three continuing grants have been awarded to conservation and natural resource agencies through the Power of Flight and Longleaf Legacy partnership programs.

"Southern Company is proud of its longstanding partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the much needed assistance we have been able to give these respected organizations," said Chris Hobson, Southern Company's chief environmental officer. "Together we are pleased to continue to help the conservation efforts throughout the Southeast."

Since 2002, Southern Company and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have contributed nearly $10 million through 88 grants through the Power of Flight and Longleaf Legacy programs. In addition, grant recipients have contributed more than $44 million in matching funds, resulting in an on-the-ground conservation impact of almost $54 million since the program's inception.

"As Southern Company continues to extend its track record of generously supporting wildlife conservation, it shows what it means to be a determined community leader," said Jeff Trandahl, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's executive director. "Our irreplaceable longleaf pine forests and scores of species of birds benefit greatly from this commitment, as does every person who appreciates the great outdoors."

Through these two programs, more than 177,000 acres of longleaf pine and other critical habitat on public and private lands will be restored or enhanced to the benefit of bird populations across the Southeast.

Four new grants were awarded under the Power of Flight program:
-- National Wild Turkey Federation - to accelerate the recovery of
red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) populations by creating additional
corridors between occupied and unoccupied clusters across boundaries
of the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge and Oconee National Forest.
This project will help to meet the RCW recovery objective by enhancing
approximately 1,000 acres of habitat through a variety of mechanical
and chemical mid-story control treatments and approximately 10,000
acres by prescribed fire over a three year-period.
-- Florida Park Service - to implement priority management actions for
the conservation of shorebirds and seabirds by expanding existing
monitoring, predator control and educational programs. The overall
goal of the project is to provide long-term protection of shorebirds,
seabirds and their habitat.
-- St. Catherines Island Foundation - to determine if artificial
incubation of American Oystercatcher eggs is a practical and effective
management tool for increasing hatching and fledging success. This
head-starting project is designed to evaluate hatching and fledging
success of manipulated vs. natural nests; determine the return on
investment of this management technique and its applicability in other
locations; and to increase annual fecundity of local populations of
American Oystercatcher over the short-term while long-term habitat
solutions are being resolved.
-- University of Tennessee - to establish much-needed capacity to bring
additional resources, partners, strategic guidance and greater focus
to geographic areas of high importance for the conservation of
Northern Bobwhite and other declining grassland bird species. Northern
Bobwhite and other grassland-dependent species have decreased by up to
75 percent in numbers since the 1960s. This project will help realize
region-wide habitat and population gains through staffing of key
positions and restoration of identified bobwhite focal areas in
cooperation with landowners within the Black Belt Prairie region of
Alabama and Mississippi.

Continuing support was provided to three grants under the Power of Flight program:

-- Operation Migration USA - to increase the number of whooping cranes
led South each year by ultralight aircraft from Necedah National
Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife
Refuge in Florida. This three-year grant is helping increase the
number of birds released annually, with the goal of helping the flock
reach a self-sustaining population level in four to five years.
-- Milliken Forestry Company - to accelerate translocation efforts for
the red-cockaded woodpecker over a five-year period. Funds are
supporting a biologist on the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida
who monitors potential donor families, with the goal of increasing
from 20 to 40 the number of woodpeckers available for translocation
each year. This is a continuation of a grant formerly made to the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service over several years.
-- Project Orianne - to restore or improve 10,000 acres of longleaf pine
habitat within the Apalachicola and Conecuh national forests,
providing habitat for declining bird populations, such as red-cockaded
woodpeckers and Bachmann's sparrow, and other species of concern, such
as the gopher tortoise and indigo snake. This project builds on the
existing infrastructure and expertise of the U.S. Forest Service by
providing additional funding to implement proven land management
practices within large tracts of contiguous forests on federal lands.

Two new grants were awarded under the Longleaf Legacy Program:

-- National Wild Turkey Federation - to conduct a three-year initiative
that will restore 10,000 acres of longleaf pine in its natural range
on private and public lands in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and
Florida. This project is part of NWTF's continued effort to help
facilitate the restoration of longleaf pine across its native range in
the Southeast to benefit game and non-game.
-- Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge - to restore longleaf pine forest
habitat on approximately 834 acres of the refuge through site
preparation, prescribed burning and reforestation with containerized
longleaf pine seedlings. This project will benefit migratory and
resident avian species, including Northern Bobwhite, brown-headed
nuthatch, Eastern wild turkey, and Bachman's sparrow.

Visit to learn more about these programs and other conservation and stewardship efforts.

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