WASHINGTON, DC, July 1, 2020 (Press Release) -The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced more than $2.6 million in grants to restore, enhance and protect the sensitive forest, wetland and aquatic habitats in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. This is the third slate of grants awarded through this program, and the grants will generate $2.3 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $4.9 million.
The eight 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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with private funding from International Paper’s Forestland Stewards Partnership and the Walton Family Foundation.
“These projects will help restore forests and improve hydrology within the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, the nation’s largest floodplain,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Today’s grants will support healthy populations of species like the Louisiana black bear, as well as numerous forest birds and freshwater fish, while at the same time improving water quality and reducing the impacts of flooding on local communities.”
Consisting of more than 24 million acres of forested wetlands with fertile alluvial soils, the Mississippi Alluvial Valley is rich with biological diversity. In addition, the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley provides an important migratory stopover and wintering habitat for more than 40 percent of North America's waterfowl.
It is also home to more than 100 fish species and 107 breeding land birds. However, widespread loss of forests, 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 the working lands that people depend on.
“NRCS is excited to contribute to this public-private partnership effort at protection, enhancement and restoration of working bottomland hardwood forests and wetlands, while providing compatible habitat for species, such as the iconic black bear,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr.
“NFWF has been a longstanding partner of the Service, and this cooperative venture to protect habitat in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley is a win-win for the area’s wildlife, local communities and their economies,” said Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “From Louisiana black bears to loggerhead shrikes to wood ducks, our collaboration is helping ensure populations of recovered species remain strong and at-risk species get the protections they need. Together we are protecting the area’s unique biodiversity for generations to come.”
The projects supported by the eight grants will protect bottomland hardwood habitat under conservation easements, as well as restore the forest habitat and hydrology, and improve aquatic habitat connectivity. These projects will also provide water quality and quantity benefits, as well as sequester carbon. Finally, they will also support the monitoring and protection of local species such as black bear, waterfowl and forest dwelling birds, such as the Swainson’s warbler, prothonotary warbler and swallow-tailed kite.
“For more than 120 years, forest stewardship has been at the core of how we have operated our company,” said Sophie Beckham, International Paper’s chief sustainability officer. “These eight projects will enhance and restore the forests that provide so many benefits for the planet and communities – water quality, wildlife health and carbon sequestration, not to mention the economic impact for local landowners. International Paper is delighted to support this important work.”
Launched in 2017, the LMAV Fund is a competitive grant program that supports restoration, enhancement and management of bottomland hardwood forests and wetlands, and promotes aquatic connectivity on private and public lands. The fund’s work benefits local communities by improving forest health, enhancing wildlife habitat and increasing water quality, and supporting 35 jobs associated with these projects within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.
“Planting more than 2 million trees and restoring more than 10,000 acres of frequently flooded lands is a win for nature and local communities,” said Paul Wolfe, program officer at the Walton Family Foundation. “This is an example of working with nature. This is also a great example of business, government and philanthropy all coming together and finding solutions that help improve water quality, while reducing the damage to communities caused by flooding.”
A complete list of the 2020 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 5,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $6.1 billion. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.
About the Natural Resources Conservation Service
Since 1935, the Natural Resources Conservation Service has helped America’s private landowners and managers conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources. NRCS provides technical assistance based on sound science and offers financial assistance for many conservation activities.
About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit fws.gov.
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 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 50,000 colleagues and serve more than 25,000 customers in 150 countries. Net sales for 2019 were $22 billion. For more information about International Paper, our products and global citizenship efforts, please visit internationalpaper.com. See how we’re building a better future for people, the planet and our company at internationalpaper.com/Vision-2030.
About Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to 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.