Southern Company and partners announce 2018 waterway conservation grants

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Southern Company and partners announce 2018 waterway conservation grants

August 9, 2018

Southern Company has awarded over $295,000 in grants in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and other public and private funders as part of the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program. Additionally, grantees have committed over $378,000 in local project support, generating a total conservation impact of more than $674,000.

Southern Company's sponsorship of the 2018 grants directly supports 10 habitat-restoration projects across five states – including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Mississippi – helping to restore more than 51 acres and 500 feet of streambank this year.

Since 2006, Southern Company has contributed over $3 million to 128 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration grants, resulting in an on-the-ground conservation impact of over $14 million, which has helped restore or improve over 1,300 acres and nearly 138,000 feet of streamside buffer in communities we are privileged to serve.

For more than a decade, Southern Company has been a proud sponsor of the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration program. This is one of our favorite initiatives with NFWF because it promotes public-private alliances that positively impact communities and watersheds throughout our service territory.

Jeff Burleson, Vice President of Environmental Planning.

The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program provides funding for wetland, forest, streamside and coastal habitat restoration. In addition to Southern Company and NFWF, major funding partners include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and FedEx.

“Public-private partnerships such as the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program generate measurable results for wildlife and communities across the nation,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The grants announced today will help communities improve water quality and support wildlife through a variety of conservation efforts, from the removal of invasive species and planting of native vegetation to the reduction of storm water runoff and creation of wetlands.”

Grant recipients were selected based on criteria including critical habitat restoration, partnerships established with local government agencies and businesses, ability to provide educational and training opportunities for youth and the community at large as well as other ecological, cultural and economic benefits.

The following projects have been awarded 2018 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration grants supported by Southern Company:

 

In Alabama:

 

Living Shoreline of Western Mobile Bay – Murphy High School will stabilize 500 feet of shoreline along the western side of Mobile Bay to restore functionality as a nursery area for young estuarine organisms. The project will install oyster shell bags parallel to the shore to establish a natural breakwater from wave action and plant emergent grasses between it and the shoreline. Project partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UMS Wright Preparatory School, the Alabama Coastal Foundation and local landowners.

Riparian Restoration and Community Education at Red Mountain Park – The Red Mountain Park Fund will improve streams by removing trash and invasive plants, planting native vegetation and installing erosion control materials at Red Mountain Park in Birmingham. The project will fully restore 10 acres and involve 1,825 community members in water conservation. Project partners include Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Alabama Cooperative Extension Services, Cawaco Resource, Conservation and Development Council, Jefferson County Commission Stormwater Program, several local universities, and the many volunteer groups the Park partners with annually.

 

In Florida:

 

Restoring Oyster Populations in Choctawhatchee Bay through Community Stewardship
Northwest Florida State College Foundation will restore 2 acres of oyster habitat in Choctawhatchee Bay, an estuary found in Okaloosa and Walton counties of northwest Florida. The project will engage 150 oyster gardeners, 450 students and 400 additional community members to enhance the declining oyster population. Activities include constructing three new oyster reefs and colonizing them with community-grown oysters. Project partners include St. Joe Community Foundation, local seafood restaurants, New Belgium Brewing, Okaloosa and Walton School Districts, Water Management District, City of Valparaiso, Northwest Florida State College Athletic Department and AmeriCorps.

 

In Georgia:

 

Briarlake Forest Park Restoration – Park Pride will restore 15 acres of urban old-growth forest habitat to improve local area green water infrastructure in the Echo Lake corridor and remove invasive vegetation threatening the tree canopy and forest habitat. The project will engage five local resource management partners and 100 trained volunteers to manually remove 15 acres of invasive vegetation from intermittent streams beds, tree canopy and forest floor. Project partners include DeKalb County Government Recreation Parks and Greenspace, EcoAddendum, the Deep Forest Field School and Clean Water Consultants.

Restoring and Connecting with Urban Wetlands at the Blue Heron Nature Preserve – Blue Heron Nature Preserve will engage 300 volunteers to restore 2.5 acres of wetlands in Atlanta, by removing six invasive plant species and other vegetation not suited for wetlands and supplementing the area with native plantings. The project will also develop educational curricula to facilitate the research and education opportunities involved in this project and build a Discovery Dock to safely bring children and scientists to the wetlands. Project partners include the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, Atlanta Audubon Society, The Amphibian Foundation, Marcy Scott, Beech Hollow Farms and Hands On Atlanta.

Habitat Restoration and Environmental Education – East Decatur Greenway will restore 1 acre of habitat at a former brownfield site in Atlanta through removing invasive plants and planting native trees. The project will engage nearby schools to create an environmental education site plan and incorporate signage and site management plans with community partners. Project partners include the Friends School of Atlanta, Trees Atlanta, Georgia Native Plant Foundation and The Amphibean Foundation.

 

In Illinois:

 

Park Forest Green Infrastructure for Storm Water Management – The Village of Park Forest (VOPF) will convert 2.5 acres of existing turf into demonstration rain gardens in three local parks. The project will engage 1,500 community members to create rain gardens out of depressional areas immediately upstream of storm sewer inlets. This will positively impact water quality by retaining water and allowing it to infiltrate and recharge groundwater before discharging to Thorn Creek in Park Forest, Illinois. Project partners include VOPF Departments of Recreation and Parks, Public Works and Economic Development and Planning, Park Forest Environment Commission, Thorn Creek Nature Preserve Management Commission, Friends of Thorn Creek and the Calumet Collaborative.

Engaging Communities in Stewardship of Local Waterways – The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago will engage community members in volunteer opportunities to restore 5 acres of habitat including wetlands, ephemeral ponds, oak savanna, woodland and prairie habitat in Cook County. The project will engage 700 volunteers and benefit a range of species including blue-spotted salamanders, chorus frogs and spring peepers. Project partners include Forest Preserves of Cook County, Student Conservation Association, Chicago Public Schools and community volunteers.

 

In Mississippi:

 

Oyster Restoration in the Lower Wolf River Watershed – The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and partners will restore 5 acres of sub-tidal oyster reef habitat in the lower Wolf River watershed within the bay of St. Louis, to benefit oysters and associated species. The project will utilize traditional cultch-deployment and monitor impacts on local water quality, oyster reef development and associated finfish utilization of historically lost oyster reef. Project partners include the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Mississippi Power, The Chemours Company, The Pascagoula River Audubon Center, St. Stanislaus College and Our Lady Academy high schools in Bay St. Louis.

Educational Awareness and Trail Construction at Bayou Auguste – The Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain will restore Bayou Auguste by removing trash and invasive species on 10 acres and installing a trail that will provide opportunities to improve the community's understanding and stewardship of the bayou. The project will utilize strategic partnerships to design and implement the trail plan while engaging over 100 community volunteers in Biloxi, with an emphasis on engaging neighborhood children and surrounding schools. Project partners include Mississippi State University Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, Biloxi Housing Authority, East Biloxi Community Collaborative and Women In Construction.

 

About Southern Company

Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is nationally recognized as a leading energy company, with 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity and 1,500 billion cubic feet of combined natural gas consumption and throughput volume serving 9 million customers through its subsidiaries as of Dec. 31, 2017. We operate nearly 200,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines and more than 80,000 miles of natural gas pipeline as of Dec. 31, 2017.

The company provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy through electric operating companies in four states, natural gas distribution companies in seven states, a competitive generation company serving wholesale customers in 11 states across America and a nationally recognized provider of customized energy solutions, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Visit www.southerncompany.com to learn more.

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) works with the public and private sectors to sustain, restore and enhance the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats for current and future generations. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF has grown to become the nation’s largest private conservation grant-maker, supporting more than 16,500 projects and generating a total conservation impact of more than $4.8 billion. The Foundation matches private dollars with public funds and uses science-based conservation and competitive grant programs to direct those resources to projects that produce the greatest measurable results for wildlife and their habitats. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.