/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Southern Company and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation today announced that four additional grants have been awarded to conservation and natural resource agencies through the Power of Flight and Longleaf Legacy partnership programs. The Power of Flight program protects birds through habitat and species restoration and environmental education. Longleaf Legacy supports restoration of longleaf pine forests, home to many endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker.
"Southern Company is proud to partner with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for the sixth consecutive year to award much needed grants to these leading organizations," said Chris Hobson, Southern Company's senior vice president for research and environmental affairs. "The awards will help further the great work being done to conserve and protect the environment and restore bird populations and habitats throughout the Southeast."
Since 2002, Southern Company and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have contributed more than $7.8 million through 80 grants to the Power of Flight and Longleaf Legacy programs. In addition, grant recipients have contributed more than $41 million in matching funds, resulting in an on-the-ground conservation impact of more than $49 million since the program's inception.
"With each year that passes, our partnership with Southern Company grows stronger, the projects funded under the Power of Flight and Longleaf Legacy programs become more meaningful, and the impact of those projects on the ground results in greater benefits to birds and longleaf pine habitats," said Jeff Trandahl, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's executive director. "The people and natural resources of the Southeastern United States are indeed fortunate that Southern Company and their affiliated operating companies are such responsible corporate stewards of our lands and waters, and the fish and wildlife that inhabit them."
Through these two programs, more than 160,000 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.
Two grants were awarded under the Power of Flight program:
-- Project Orianne - to restore or improve 10,000 acres of longleaf pine habitat within the Apalachicola and Conecuh National Forests to create and enhance 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 will build on the existing infrastructure and expertise of the Forest Service by providing additional funding to implement land management practices within large tracts of contiguous forests on federal lands.
-- Quail Unlimited - to continue to address the goals of the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative through improved forest land management of 1,607 acres on both public and private lands. The habitat restoration and enhancement will take place in the Bankhead and Talladega National Forests in Alabama, at J. Strom Thurmond Lake in Georgia, and on private lands in the 15-county target area of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Bobwhite Quail Initiative.
Two grants were awarded under the Longleaf Legacy program:
-- Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge - to support conservation of 870 acres of land burned during wildfires in 2007 and plant approximately 170,000 longleaf seedlings over 400 acres. This project will support the expansion of red-cockaded woodpecker clusters on the refuge and is also part of a larger multi-agency effort to establish a half-mile longleaf pine conservation and fire resilient zone around the Okefenokee and Pinhook Swamps in southeast Georgia.
-- Auburn University - to develop a geospatial mapping and decision support tool to guide on-the-ground longleaf conservation efforts across its historical range. The tool will identify where restoration and management activities should be focused to best meet objectives for ecosystem restoration; species conservation (threatened and endangered species, migratory birds); and the need to manage longleaf habitats to maintain their structure, function, and diversity. This project will expand on the tool developed by the East Gulf Coastal Plain Joint Venture through a previous grant.
Visit www.southerncompany.com/planetpower to view fact sheets on the Power of Flight and Longleaf Legacy programs or to see a complete listing of awards granted.
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