The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has announced grants totaling $2.19 million to restore, enhance, and protect more than sixty thousand acres of forest and wetland habitats in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Awarded through the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Restoration Fund, a partnership between NFWF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service, with additional funding from International Paper's Forestland Stewards Partnership, the Walton Family Foundation, and the American Forest Foundation's Southern Woods for At-Risk Wildlife Initiative, the grants are expected to generate $1.5 million in matching contributions, for a total conservation impact of more than $3.6 million.
The Mississippi Alluvial Valley is a forested wetland system that provides important habitat for migratory birds — approximately 40 percent of North America's waterfowl and nearly 60 percent of all U.S. bird species migrate or winter in the region. In total, the projects will result in the restoration of twenty-five thousand acres of bottomland hardwood forest, enhancements to more than thirteen thousand acres of existing bottomland hardwood and upland forest habitat, improvements in the hydrologic function of some twenty-four thousand acres of wetlands and floodplains, and the protection of nearly twenty-two thousand acres of bottomland hardwood forest and wetland habitats. Recipients of the grants include the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Nature Conservancy, and Pheasants Forever.
"We are excited that NRCS and [the] U.S. Forest Service are contributing to this private lands restoration effort in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley," said Homer Wilkes, director of the USDA Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Team. "Through this, we hope to build on previous conservation efforts as well as expand them across the diverse communities of this culturally and agriculturally rich area."