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NFWF Announces First Awards from Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced the initial round of grants from the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program (GCCGP). The 29 grants announced today total nearly $13 million and will generate an additional $15.8 million in matching funds, for a total conservation impact of nearly $28.8 million that will enhance coastal watersheds, bolster priority fish and wildlife populations, and strengthen coastal resiliency along the Gulf Coast.

The grants will support a wide range of conservation efforts, including the enhancement of 8,600 acres of waterfowl habitat in Louisiana, a study of bonefish and tarpon restoration in Florida, and the stabilization of Florida's Cape Sable, home to the largest wintering shorebird habitat in North America. Other grants will establish new youth and veterans conservation corps to engage both in Gulf restoration efforts, while others will promote outreach to farmers and other private landowners to advance conservation goals.

The GCCGP is a new competitive grants program that supports priority conservation needs of the Gulf that are not otherwise expected to be funded under NFWF's Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund or other funding opportunities associated with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The GCCGP builds on existing and new partnerships and is supported with funding from the Shell Marine Habitat Program, Southern Company Power of Flight Program, SeaWorld Ocean Health Initiative, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and other sources.

"The grants we announce today will result in meaningful conservation outcomes for the Gulf of Mexico," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO at NFWF. "This new program will complement important work being accomplished throughout the Gulf Coast, present new opportunities to further leverage conservation dollars, and benefit the wildlife and human communities that rely on the Gulf's critical ecosystems."

"We are pleased that our Power of Flight program is helping Gulf Coast bird populations rebound and thrive," said Southern Company Chief Environmental Officer Dr. Larry S. Monroe. "By funding research, monitoring populations and using established protection strategies for critical species, we are ensuring these birds will inhabit our coasts for generations to come."

"Conservation on private lands plays a critical role in the Gulf's recovery, and we're proud to help America's farmers, ranchers and forest managers restore habitat, improve water quality, protect wetlands, and make their operations stronger and more resilient," NRCS Chief Jason Weller said. "These grants show that when we work together, sharing expertise and leveraging resources, the Gulf's ecosystems and economies can rebound and flourish."

The GCCGP focuses on strategic conservation projects within coastal areas in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The program seeks to advance innovative restoration concepts and approaches, build capacity through strategic engagement of youth and veterans, and fund species and habitat projects benefitting Gulf coastal ecosystems and communities.
For a complete list of the grants announced today, please click here.

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 complex conservation challenges. Over the last three decades, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.9 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.

About Shell

Shell is an integrated energy company that aims to meet the world's growing demand for energy in ways that are economically, environmentally and socially responsible.
UPSTREAM: Upstream explores for and produces natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids by developing onshore and offshore fields. It also mines and extracts bitumen from oil sands and converts it into synthetic crude oil. Natural gas may be liquefied, transported as liquefied natural gas and then regasified where it is needed or it may be converted from gas to liquid fuels. Upstream also operates the infrastructure necessary to deliver oil and gas to market. Wind power activities are also a part of Upstream.

DOWNSTREAM: Downstream is the business that manufactures oil products, biofuels and chemicals, which are then distributed and sold. Downstream trades Shell's hydrocarbons and other energy-related products and manages our fleet of natural gas carriers and oil tankers.

PROJECTS & TECHNOLOGY: The Projects & Technology organisation works across Downstream and Upstream driving research and innovation to create technology solutions for finding and developing oil and gas. It manages the projects that turn oil and gas fields into profitable assets and is the engine through which Shell creates value for the future.
www.shell.com/about

About Southern Company

With more than 4.5 million customers and approximately 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 excellent customer service, high reliability and affordable prices that are below the national average. Through an industry-leading commitment to innovation, Southern Company and its subsidiaries are inventing America's energy future by developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including nuclear, 21st century coal, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency, and creating new products and services for the benefit of customers.

Southern Company has been named by the U.S. Department of Defense and G.I. Jobs magazine as a top military employer, listed by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity and designated a 2014 Top Employer for Hispanics by Hispanic Network. The company earned the 2014 National Award of Nuclear Science and History by the National Atomic Museum Foundation for its leadership and commitment to nuclear development, 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 http://www.southerncompany.com/.

About SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company delivering personal, interactive and educational experiences that blend imagination with nature and enable its customers to celebrate, connect with and care for the natural world we share. The Company owns or licenses a portfolio of globally recognized brands including SeaWorld®, Shamu® and Busch Gardens®. Over its more than 50-year history, the Company has built a diversified portfolio of 11 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection of approximately 89,000 marine and terrestrial animals. The Company's theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world's foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The Company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The Company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld rescue team has helped more than 26,000 animals in need over the last 50 years. SeaWorld has pledged $10 million to fund research and conservation for killer whales in the wild – the largest commitment of its kind.
Copies of this and other news releases as well as additional information about SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. can be obtained online at www.seaworldentertainment.com. Shareholders and prospective investors can also register to automatically receive the Company's press releases, SEC filings and other notices by e-mail by registering at that website.

About USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service

NRCS provides America's farmers and ranchers with technical and financial assistance to voluntarily put conservation on the ground, not only helping the environment but agricultural operations, too. To learn about NRCS' Gulf restoration efforts, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Gulf. For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or a local USDA service center.

CONTACT: Rob Blumenthal Director of Communications, NFWF rob.blumenthal@nfwf.org, 202-595-2457

Source:National Fish and Wildlife Foundation