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 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program Announces more than $1 Million in Grants

​WASHINGTON – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), National Association of Counties (NACo) and the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) today announced that over $1.2 million in grants has been awarded to 46 community-led wetland, stream and coastal restoration projects nationwide. The grantees have committed an additional $13 million in local project support. In total, over $14 million will be invested in projects to restore wildlife habitat and urban waters, engaging thousands of volunteers in community-based environmental stewardship projects in the process.

These grants are awarded through the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program, which began in 1999 as a partnership among NFWF, NACo, WHC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since its start, the program has supported over 620 projects with more than $5 million in federal funds, $3.7 million in private and corporate contributions and $37 million in matching funds at the local level.

In 2013, the Five Star program expanded the funding pool by adding Federal support through the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, which helps urban and metropolitan areas, particularly those that are under-served or economically distressed, connect with their waterways and work to improve them. Major funding for the 2013 Five Star and Urban Waters program is provided by EPA, the US Forest Service, FedEx and Southern Company.

“With the help of public, private and corporate funders, the Five Star and Urban Waters program supports dynamic conservation work across the country,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “These grants not only protect and restore the places that fish and wildlife need, but also enhance natural amenities for the entire community.”

“Communities across the country are focused on revitalizing their urban waterways and the neighborhoods around them. Reconnecting people with urban waterways results in economic, environmental and social benefits to communities,” said EPA acting Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner. “Urban waters have the potential to be treasured centerpieces of urban revival. Healthy and accessible waters help grow local businesses and enhance educational, recreational, and social opportunities in the communities through which they pass.”

“Everyone wins when we take care of our urban waters and community waterways,” said USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Butch Blazer. “We rely on our urban forests to protect clean water for drinking and for recreational opportunities in our cities.”

“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.”

“The true success of the Five Star Restoration program lies in the boots-on-the-ground work done by the grantees and their partners,” said Southern Company Chief Environmental Officer Chris Hobson. “These are local, community-based projects that mesh perfectly with Southern Company’s philosophy of making our communities better because we’re there.”

The Five Star and Urban Waters 2013 winners were selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 280 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. These 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 (full list available here)

In Alabama, the Freshwater Land Trust will clean up and restore a former industrial site that lies along the banks of Village Creek. The site is a major connector for a planned greenway system that will connect the Enon Ridge and East Thomas communities in Birmingham, Alabama. The Land Trust will restore the streamside buffer to a natural vegetated state and will remove all concrete and industrial debris, plant a vegetated riverbank zone along the banks of Village creek and the first phase of design work for the trail which will connect the residential area to an existing park.

In Washington, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust will remove invasive plants and install 1,000 conifers to provide forest ecosystems that help to reduce temperatures along the river to benefit endangered Puget Sound Chinook salmon in a key area in the Tolt River. The project will utilize existing partnerships and engage the local community in developing future efforts to restore strategic areas for salmon including the establishment of Snoqualmie Valley-wide initiative to bring together a coalition of community leaders focused on conservation and community development.

In Maryland, The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Inc. will work to address trash and debris pollution in local waterways leading to the Chesapeake Bay through a multi-faceted approach. The Aquarium will work with 150 local students to educate them about water quality and storm water run-off and the impact of trash on clean water. Project partners will also host quarterly Dumpster Days with outreach and education in the community to decrease illegal dumping in the watershed and  hold a spring and fall restoration day at Farring-Baybrook Park. Additionally, the Aquarium and its partners will commission a small watershed plan.

In New Mexico, the North American Native Fish Association will restore and improve 34 acres of wetland habitat to benefit the critically endangered Pecos Pupfish as well as a wide array of other native fish, insects and amphibians within the South Tract of the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Roswell, New Mexico. Project partners will engage 130 local student and adult volunteers to remove invasive plants and relocate Pecos Pupfish to this improved habitat and to incorporate these activities into science classes at local high schools.  ______________________________________________________________________________

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nation’s wildlife and habitats. Created by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions. In 29 years, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.1 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.

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 3,069 counties. With its headquarters on Capitol Hill, NACo is a full-service organization that delivers its services through its dedicated and skilled staff. 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. To learn more about NACo, visit http://www.naco.org

The Wildlife Habitat Council promotes and certifies habitat management and conservation on corporate lands. WHC’s core strength is working with its corporate members and conservation partners to implement high quality projects than enhance the environment, engage employees and educate and inspire the community. With over 800 certified projects, WHC is helping business protect biodiversity across the country and beyond. 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 $44 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.

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 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 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.