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 Five Star Announces More Than $1 Million in Grants to Restore Wetlands and Streams

​Innovative partnership works closely with communities to foster conservation

WASHINGTON – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), National Association of Counties (NACo) and the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) today announced that over $1 million in grants has been awarded to 41 community-led wetland, stream and coastal restoration projects nationwide. The grantees have committed an additional $5.5 million in local project support. In total, over $6.5 million will be invested in projects to restore 132 acres of wildlife habitat and approximately eight miles of streambanks, engaging more than 10,000 volunteers in community-based habitat restoration projects in the process.

These grants are being awarded through the Five Star Restoration Program, which began in 1999 as a partnership among NFWF, NACo, WHC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since its start, Five Star has supported 585 projects with more than $4.5 million in federal funds, $3.1 million in private and corporate contributions and $24.2 million in matching funds at the local level. In addition to EPA, major funding is provided by FedEx, Pacific Gas & Electric’s Nature Restoration Trust, Amgen Foundation, Wells Fargo, Northup Grumman and Southern Company.

“Five Star is possible because of a unique collaboration with our public, private and corporate funders,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director of NFWF. “Because of their generous contributions, these community-based habitat restoration projects not only provide immediate benefits to fish and wildlife, but also help to build a local environmental stewardship ethic.”

When communities using a wide variety of partners restore wetlands, streams, and coasts, the benefits extend beyond local wildlife habitats to the residents, community and nation as a whole," said EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water, Nancy K. Stoner.

“With a significant portion of our operations, people and facilities based in metropolitan centers, we highly value healthy urban spaces and appreciate the opportunity to invest in these restoration projects through financial contributions and team member volunteerism,” said Mitch Jackson, vice president, Environmental Affairs and Sustainability, FedEx Corp. “Through NFWF and the FedEx EarthSmart Outreach program, FedEx team members work directly with local nonprofits to improve the urban spaces where they live and work. We congratulate the community groups that were selected to receive grants as a part of the Five Star Restoration Program.”

“PG&E is proud to support habitat and wetland restoration projects in the communities we serve throughout Northern and Central California” said Diane Ross-Leech, director of Environmental Policy at PG&E. “The Five Star Program is one of the ways that we’re able to work with partners like the Watershed Project to continue to conserve California’s diverse habitats.”

“As a financial services company, with more than 70 million customers and a large national footprint, we recognize our ability to influence positive change in the many communities we serve. In addition to helping our customers succeed financially, our focus on environmental leadership allowed us to create a strategic partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to be

able to fund critical environmental restoration projects that will bring strength and resilience to our local communities, “said Ashley Grosh, manager of Environmental Philanthropy at Wells Fargo.

"The Amgen Foundation is proud to support the Five Star Restoration Program," said Jean Lim Terra, president, Amgen Foundation. "Five Star’s support of local wetland, riparian, and coastal habitat restoration programs and grassroots volunteer engagement builds a collaborative spirit of stewardship in the communities where we live and work. Congratulations to the community groups selected to receive Five Star grants."

“The key to the success of the Five Star Restoration program is the inspiration, tenacity and passion of the grantees,” said Chris Hobson, Southern Company chief environmental officer. “Southern Company and its operating companies are honored to be partners in this work that is so vital to the natural health of our region.”

“On behalf of the nation’s counties, I congratulate the 2012 NACo Five Star grantees,” said NACo President Chris Rodgers, Commissioner, Douglas County, Nebraska. “NACo is very proud of its longstanding support of the Five Star Restoration Program. Counties and their partners across the country are fostering environmental stewardship and building diverse partnerships that restore and protect the environment well into the future.”

“WHC believes in supporting partnerships between a wide variety of stakeholders to create quality habitat, foster a lasting sense of stewardship, and promote excellence in learning”, said Wildlife Habitat Council President, Margaret O’Gorman. “As such, we are proud to provide support for the applicants of the Five Star Restoration Program and congratulate this year’s grantees on the excellent work they have undertaken.”

The Five Star 2012 winners were selected from a competitive pool of more than 220 applications. Consideration for funding is based upon the educational and training opportunities for youth and the community at large, the ecological and other cultural and economic benefits to the community. Five Star projects must also involve a high degree of partnership between local government agencies, elected officials, community groups, businesses, schools, and environmental organizations for improving local water quality and restoring important fish and wildlife habitats.

Project Spotlights

In Georgia, the South Fork Conservancy will begin to reclaim 31 miles of urban creeks by restoring, conserving and protecting the watershed and building low impact trails. This is a continuation of a successful urban riparian recovery program the Atlanta Botanical Garden began with NFWF support. This project will fence off highway trash for approximately 800 feet, control 3 acres of non-native invasives, restore 3 bioswales to catch highway stormwater, and re-establish a bio-diverse buffer along .22 miles of creek. Biologists and educators will lead 30 adult and 60 student volunteers and neighbors in stream restoration and low-impact trail creation. The result will make the area more accessible to the public and encourage the protection of the creek and its water quality.

In Texas, the REAL School Gardens will build upon an existing program infrastructure to nurture native habitats on high-poverty elementary school campuses and encourage natural resource stewardship by adults and children. Project activities include creating seven new outdoor classroom spaces with water conservation systems and native plant and wildlife habitats; sustaining 23 existing outdoor classroom; eradicating invasive species on 1,050 square feet; providing hands-on training on rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation for approximately 1,000 adults and children at garden installation events; creating standards-based lessons on water conservation appropriate for kindergarten through fifth grade students; and training over 250 teachers to utilize these lessons in their outdoor classrooms to boost children’s learning and positively impact their environmental behaviors. Project partners include RainScholars, Texas AgiLife Extension Service, Bank of America, and 30 Elementary Schools and five urban school districts.

In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association will restore 15 acres of wetland to increase species diversity and protect sedge meadow, the most threatened habitat type in Wisconsin. Project partner Highland Charter School will utilize this site as an educational and community project. Students will develop restoration plans through surveying, research applicable practices and work with multiple landowners and partners to coordinate restoration. The restored wetland will provide diversity in a floodplain that was lost with the removal of the dam and sediment accumulation. Project partners include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Highland Community School, Wisconsin Green Schools Network, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Trout Unlimited and private landowners.

About Our Partners

The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. Founded in 1935, NACo provides essential services to the nation’s 3,068 counties. NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public's understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research, and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. For more information about NACo, visit www.naco.org.

The Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) is a nonprofit, non-lobbying organization dedicated to increasing the quality and amount of wildlife habitat on corporate, private and public lands. WHC devotes its resources to building partnerships with corporations and conservation groups to create solutions that balance the demands of economic growth with the requirements of a healthy, biodiverse and sustainable environment. WHC-assisted wildlife habitat and conservation education programs are found in 48 states, the District of Columbia and nine other countries. To learn more, visit www.wildlifehc.org.

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $43 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world's most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 300,000 team members to remain "absolutely, positively" focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit news.fedex.com.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/.

The Amgen Foundation seeks to advance science education, improve patient access to quality care, and strengthen the communities where Amgen staff members live and work. Since 1991, the Foundation has made nearly $180 million in grants to local, regional, and national nonprofit organizations that impact society in inspiring and innovative ways. It has also supported disaster relief efforts both domestically and internationally. To learn more, visit www.amgen.com/citizenship/overview.html.

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.4 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in

San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 stores, 12,000 ATMs, the Internet (wellsfargo.com), and has offices in more than 35 countries to support the bank’s customers who conduct business in the global economy. Since 2006, Wells Fargo has provided more than $11.7 billion in environmental finance, supporting sustainable buildings and renewable energy projects nationwide. This includes investments in more than 260 solar projects and 34 wind projects that generate enough clean renewable energy to power hundreds of thousands of American homes each year. In April 2012, Wells Fargo released a set of environmental commitments to be achieved by 2020; including reducing the company’s environmental impact, financing the transition to a greener economy and encouraging stronger and more sustainable communities. A leader in reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions and building sustainably, Wells Fargo has been recognized by the Carbon Disclosure Project and the U.S. Green Building Council. The company was listed as one of the 2012 “Best Corporate Citizens” by Corporate Responsibility Magazine. For more information, please visit: www.wellsfargo.com/environment.

With 4.4 million customers and more than 43,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast. 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 is leading the nation's nuclear renaissance through the construction of the first new nuclear units to be built in a generation of Americans and is demonstrating its commitment to energy innovation through 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 and listed by DiversityInc as a top company for Blacks. The company received the 2012 Edison Award from the Edison Electric Institute for its leadership in new nuclear development, was named Platts' 2011 Power Company of the Year and is continually ranked among the top utilities in Fortune's annual World's Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings. Visit www.southerncompany.com.