Southern Company and partners award longleaf stewardship grants
ATLANTA, July 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Reflecting an ongoing commitment to natural resource conservation, Southern Company and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $3.38 million in grants to protect and restore the longleaf pine ecosystem, including seven projects within the Southern Company system service area. The announcement was made as part of a 5-year anniversary celebration for America's Longleaf Restoration Initiative held in Washington, D.C.
The 15 total grants are part of NFWF's Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a landmark public-private partnership that includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service; the U.S. Department of Defense; the Fish and Wildlife Service; Southern Company; and International Paper.
The 2014 projects awarded grants are expected to ultimately restore more than 11,800 acres, of which more than 8,000 acres fall within the Southern Company system service area. Of the 116,000 additional longleaf acres expected to be enhanced by the grants, more than 74,000 acres are within the Southern Company system service area.
"Southern Company's longstanding support of environmental stewardship − including our partnership with NFWF in the Longleaf Stewardship Fund − is a natural extension of our core value of making communities we serve better off because we are there," said Southern Company Chief Environmental Officer Dr. Larry S. Monroe. "The unprecedented level of cooperation across public agencies, nonprofits, businesses and private landowners is making huge conservation gains and is a shining example of collaboration and innovation, two of the hallmarks of our stewardship programs."
The Longleaf Stewardship Fund builds on the success of the Longleaf Legacy program, a partnership between Southern Company and NFWF from 2004-2011 that has invested $8.7 million in projects expected to restore 82,000 acres of longleaf pine forest and the native species that rely on it. Additionally, another 20,000 acres were restored through the company's closely aligned Power of Flight program with NFWF.
"Today, we are celebrating the power of partnership to bring resources, vision and commitment together to achieve substantial conservation impacts for this important forest ecosystem," said NFWF Vice President of Conservation Programs David O'Neill. "The $3.38 million in Longleaf Stewardship Fund grants announced today will continue the significant progress we have made toward the recovery of the longleaf pine ecosystem and its multitude of benefits in strategic areas across the Southeast."
The majestic longleaf pine ecosystem once covered more than 90 million acres across nine states from Virginia to Texas, but dropped to only 3 percent of its original acreage. With the diverse public-private commitment to longleaf pine restoration in recent years, longleaf pine forest has increased from roughly 3 million acres to an estimated 4.4 million acres, halting and reversing a century-long decline, benefitting many threatened and endangered species dependent on the habitat.
The 2014 Longleaf Stewardship Fund projects within the Southern Company system service area include:
Apalachicola National Forest Restoration
Blackwater River State Forest Longleaf Restoration
Big Lazer Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Groundcover Restoration
Fort Stewart/Altamaha Longleaf and Wildlife Restoration
Alabama Longleaf Restoration
Coosa Wildlife Management Area Longleaf Restoration
DeSoto National Forest Longleaf Restoration
With 4.4 million customers and nearly 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast through its subsidiaries. A leading U.S. producer of clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and a growing competitive generation company, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for energy innovation, excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are below the national average. Southern Company and its subsidiaries are leading the nation's nuclear renaissance through the construction of the first new nuclear units to be built in a generation of Americans and are demonstrating their commitment to energy innovation through the development of a state-of-the-art coal gasification plant. Southern Company has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense and G.I. Jobs magazine as a top military employer, listed by DiversityInc as a top company for Blacks and designated a 2013 Top Employer for Hispanics by Hispanic Network. The company received the Edison Award from the Edison Electric Institute for its leadership in new nuclear development, was named Electric Light & Power magazine's Utility of the Year for 2012 and is continually ranked among the top utilities in Fortune's annual World's Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings. Visit our website at www.southerncompany.com.
SOURCE Southern Company
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