BENTONVILLE, Ark., Nov. 12, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Acres for America program, one of the most effective public-private partnerships in the history of U.S. conservation efforts, today announced newly funded projects in Alabama, California, Florida, Texas and Washington. The four grants in five states announced today are part of a program established in 2005 by Walmart, in collaboration with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), to conserve lands of national significance, protect critical fish and wildlife habitat and benefit people and local economies.
Acres for America began as a 10-year, $35 million commitment by Walmart to purchase and preserve one acre of wildlife habitat in the United States for every acre of land developed by the company. The program has protected critical habitats for birds, fish, plants and wildlife and has funded 59 projects in 33 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The 2014 grants total $2,325,000, and will leverage an additional $82,936,000, for a total conservation investment of more than $85 million.
"These new Acres for America projects build on a conservation legacy created by our partners at Walmart," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "From the Gulf Coast to Puget Sound, the projects funded through the program protect the open spaces that fish and wildlife need and provide abundant economic and recreational resources for local communities."
"Walmart is pleased to continue our work with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the Acres for America program," said John Clarke, Vice President of store planning for Walmart. "The projects funded through the Acres program provide great benefits to wildlife habitats across the nation, and to local communities that Walmart serves every day."
New Acres for America projects include the following:
Hood Canal Landscape Conservation Initiative: Washington
Lead Partner: The Trust for Public Land
Project description: The Dosewallips and Duckabush River properties encompass 6,361 acres of forested uplands and riparian habitat adjacent to the Olympic National Forest and along the salmon-bearing Duckabush and Dosewallips Rivers. This land contributes significantly to the rural economy, as it encompasses working forests that contain numerous outdoor recreation opportunities and are in close proximity to Naval Base Kitsap and the growing Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan region. The Trust for Public Land, as a lead partner of the Department of Defense's Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program in the Hood Canal landscape, will protect two adjacent properties. This project is an important early contribution to The Trust for Public Land's long-term Hood Canal Landscape Conservation Initiative that seeks to protect 50,000 acres over 10 years in order to ensure the economic and ecological sustainability of the landscape.
Lost Coast Redwood and Salmon Initiative: California
Lead Partner: Sanctuary Forest
Project description: The Lost Coast Redwood and Salmon Initiative is an innovative partnership through which public conservation funds are leveraged by a greater share of private investment capital. It was formed to stop further degradation of key salmon streams and reverse a trend of diminishing timber productivity, fragmentation of ownerships, and conversion to non-timber uses. Sanctuary Forest will place conservation easements on 6,462 acres, resulting in a contiguous 140,000-acre matrix of protected lands on the edge of California's largest coastal wilderness that serves as a conservation bridge for wildlife migration and new opportunities for public access and recreation. The project will also leverage public conservation funds and private investment capital to rejuvenate working forestlands and provide permanent protection of historically productive redwood, fir, and hardwood forestlands from fragmentation, conversion, and degradation.
Powderhorn Ranch Acquisition: Texas
Lead Partner: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation
Project description: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation is working with several partners to conserve the 17,351-acre Powderhorn Ranch on the Texas coast on Matagorda Bay for the protection and restoration of a variety of important coastal habitats and the aquatic and terrestrial species they support. The Powderhorn Ranch acquisition will result in conserving critical habitat for endangered species, connecting conservation areas, and providing public access to the outdoors, and is critical to ensure conservation of thousands of acres of freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, and tidal flats; miles of coastal shoreline; extensive forests of mature coastal live oak; and several species such as the federally endangered whooping crane. Acquisition will conserve this area of significant biological diversity in perpetuity, as the property will eventually be gifted to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Coastal Headwaters Forest Longleaf Conservation and Restoration: Alabama and Florida
Lead Partners: The Conservation Fund and Resource Management Service, LLC
Project description: The Conservation Fund and Resource Management Service, LLC, will provide a significant benefit to longleaf-dependent species by restoring longleaf pine and permanently protecting approximately 205,000 acres of working forestlands across the Mobile, Perdido, Pensacola, and Blackwater Bay watersheds in Alabama and Florida. This project is the largest single longleaf pine landscape restoration effort on private lands in history. It will serve as a model for landscape-scale conversion to longleaf pine and timber management and will support larger efforts in the area. Acquisition of a working forest easement, with land management requirements, will ensure that the majority of these lands are restored to the native longleaf ecosystem, and that habitats are improved for numerous threatened and endangered species, including reticulated flatwoods salamander, indigo snake, and red-cockaded woodpecker. The permanent protection of these lands will also support numerous migratory species that rely on the forests as stopover, breeding, and wintering habitat; it will support several at-risk species that reside in the area including gopher tortoise, eastern diamondback rattlesnake and the Bachman's sparrow.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better – anytime and anywhere -- in retail stores, online and through their mobile devices. Each week, more than 245 million customers and members visit our 11,053 stores under 71 banners in 27 countries and e-commerce websites in 11 countries. With fiscal year 2014 sales of over $473 billion, Walmart employs more than 2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://corporate.walmart.com on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmart. Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com.
About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nation's wildlife and habitats. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions. NFWF works with government, nonprofit and corporate partners to find solutions for the most intractable conservation challenges. Over the last three decades, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.3 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.
CONTACT: Erica Jones, with Walmart, 1-(800)-331-0085, or news.walmart.com/reporter Rob Blumenthal with NFWF, (202) 595-2457
Source:National Fish and Wildlife Foundation