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NFWF Announces $4.6 Million in Funding for 22 Longleaf Pine Restoration Projects in 9 States Across the Southeast

Date: 07/10/15

Washington, D.C.* July 1, 2015 [Reprinted from USFWS]

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today
announced $4.6 million in grants to support the longleaf ecosystem and
advance the objectives of the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf
Pine. Funding was awarded to 22 projects
<http://www.nfwf.org/longleaf/Documents/lsf_2015_project-list.pdf> across
the historic longleaf range that ultimately will restore more than 11,600
acres and enhance more than 163,000 additional acres of longleaf pine
habitat, while leveraging over $6.4 million in additional funds from grant
partners.

The grants are administered by NFWF’s Longleaf Stewardship Fund
<http://www.nfwf.org/longleaf>, a landmark public-private partnership that
includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service and
Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Department of Defense
(DoD), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and private funding from
Southern Company, International Paper’s Forestland Stewards Initiative and
Altria Group. The fund, now in its fourth year, combines the financial and
technical resources of the partnership to accelerate restoration of the
longleaf pine ecosystem and implementation of the Range-Wide Conservation
Plan for Longleaf Pine as part of America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative.

“The progress made over the past decade in restoring the longleaf ecosystem
is truly remarkable,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO at
NFWF. “The $4.6 million in Longleaf Stewardship Fund grants announced today
will continue to build on that record of success and serve as a powerful
reminder of the importance of public-private partnerships in conserving
America’s natural wonders.”

The longleaf pine ecosystem once encompassed more than 90 million acres,
reaching from Virginia to Texas. Unique to the southeastern United States,
it contains a stunning diversity of plants and animals — including rare and
endangered wildlife such as the red-cockaded woodpecker, bobwhite quail and
gopher tortoise — and provides a range of additional benefits, including
supporting forest-dependent economies and military readiness. With many
agencies, nonprofits, private landowners and businesses committing to
longleaf pine restoration in recent years, the acreage of longleaf pine
forest has grown 8 percent over the past decade to an estimated 4.4 million
acres, reversing a century-long decline across the South.

The 22 projects selected to receive support include 11 Significant
Geographic Areas for longleaf pine conservation. Additionally, it is
expected that the funding will provide more than 2,500 private landowners
with educational and technical assistance related to longleaf restoration
and available cost-share programs, with 380 landowners entering into
stewardship programs on private lands.

“Public and private organizations working collaboratively to restore the
longleaf pine ecosystem is critical to continued progress,” said Robert
Bonnie, USDA’s Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment.  “We
encourage this team effort and the use of USDA conservation programs to
provide assistance to landowners while furthering the objectives of
America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative.”

“The Longleaf Stewardship Fund provides a tremendous opportunity for DoD to
work with partners to achieve wide ranging benefits for the military,” said
John Conger, performing the duties of Assistant Secretary of Defense
(Energy, Installations and Environment). “Protection and restoration of
longleaf pine forests strengthens military readiness by promoting
compatible land uses near military facilities and enhances habitat for
imperiled species, which in turn provides greater flexibility for our
training, testing and operational missions.  In 2015, as a result of our
partnership with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, approximately 11
dollars will be spent by our partners for every dollar DoD spent, resulting
in over 5,500 acres of longleaf established and 87,676 additional acres
enhanced to benefit seven military installations. Working with partners in
the Longleaf Stewardship Fund helps DoD achieve beneficial outcomes in
support of national defense, and we’re glad to continue to be a part of the
effort.”

“Longleaf pine forests are an integral part of the culture, economy and
ecology of the Southeastern landscape,” said Cindy Dohner, the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “Restoring these open,
fire-maintained forests will help in the recovery of numerous at-risk or
listed species.  The Service recognizes the valuable role that the Longleaf
Stewardship Fund plays in longleaf pine ecosystem restoration efforts and
is proud to support the Fund.”

“The results of our partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation, natural resource agencies and others demonstrate the power of
collaboration and a shared long-term commitment,” said Southern Company
Chief Environmental Officer Dr. Larry S. Monroe. “Southern Company is proud
to continue our support of this critical conservation work in the
Southeast.”

“International Paper is proud to work with the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation to demonstrate the economic, social and ecological value of
working forests while conserving and restoring some of nature’s most
treasured landscapes,” said Mark Sutton, chairman and CEO of International
Paper. “Throughout our 117-year history, our company has encouraged
sustainable forestry practices and the stewardship of renewable natural
resources. Through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, we are building on
this commitment and supporting the important work of the agencies and
partners who are advancing healthy forests across the Southeast United
States.”

“Promoting the sustainability of natural resources is a core part of
Altria’s mission,” said Wendy Shields, Manager of Corporate Contributions
and Community Relations for Altria Client Services. “By helping restore the
longleaf forests, we are improving our communities while protecting the
resources on which we depend.”

Since 2012, the Longleaf Stewardship Fund has invested more than $14.1
million in projects that will restore more than 47,400 acres, improve more
than 552,000 additional acres of longleaf pine forest, and benefit the
native species that rely on those forests. The grants awarded by the
Longleaf Stewardship Fund in 2015 continue to build on the success of this
public-private partnership, further expanding the restoration of the
longleaf pine ecosystem through collaborative and results-oriented actions.