Southern Company participates in many environmental stewardship programs to protect wildlife and conserve natural resources. These partnerships foster environmental improvements to ensure that the Southeast continues to be a healthy and desirable place to live. Partnerships include funding, but Southern Company employees will also roll up their sleeves to pitch in.
The Power of Flight program is a partnership between Southern Company—including its four operating companies—and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The partnership funds efforts to conserve birds characteristic of the southern U.S. through strategic habitat restoration and environmental education. Efforts span Southern Company's primary service area of Georgia, Alabama, northwestern Florida and southeastern Mississippi.
Launched in 2003, the 11-year partnership is the largest public agency-private corporation funding effort for bird conservation in the South. Each partner contributes $300,000 annually with the combined $600,000 available through a competitive grant program. Grantees match all awards dollar for dollar (or more). In addition, Southern Company provides $60,000 annually to support the NFWF bird conservation efforts.
The goal of the Power of Flight Program is to address the conservation needs of high priority bird species characteristic of the southern United States, such as Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Northern Bobwhite, coastal water birds and other imperiled species. Grants are awarded to support this goal and the following objectives:
Projects meeting the above criteria and implementing the following conservation actions will be considered:
In a new alliance that extends efforts to restore bird populations in the Southeast, Southern Company is sponsoring Operation Migration USA with a Power of Flight grant. The support will help Operation Migration increase the number of whooping cranes it raises and leads south by ultralight aircraft from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.
The cranes are first taught to follow a specially designed ultralight aircraft. Eventually, they follow a team of four ultralight aircraft on their first migration from Wisconsin to Florida. Once the birds learn the migratory route they can return, on their own, the following spring. Each year a new generation is taught this route and released. Once this flock reaches 125 birds, including 25 breeding pairs, it can be considered self-sustaining.
Primarily due to destruction of natural habitat, only 15 birds survived in the world in the 1940s. Thanks to conservation efforts like Operation Migration, more than 500 whooping cranes survive today.