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Coastal conservation grants announced

<p>Demonstrating its historic commitment to wildlife conservation, Southern Company, along with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and other public and private partners, today announced new grants under the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" adhocenable="false">Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program</a>&nbsp;(GCCGP).</p>
<p>The NFWF program will support a wide variety of conservation projects - three of which are supported by Southern Company - focusing on enhancing coastal habitats and bolstering priority fish and wildlife populations along the Gulf of Mexico. Southern Company-sponsored grants will focus on restoring and maintaining the ecology of coastal bird species spanning Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle.</p>
<p>GCCGP's 2016 national grants are being awarded through a public-private partnership with NFWF, Southern Company's Power of Flight program, the Shell Marine Habitat Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and other sources.</p>
<p>&quot;By supporting the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program, Southern Company is continuing our tradition of making communities better because we are there,&quot; said Southern Company Chief Environmental Officer Dr. Larry S. Monroe. &quot;Our Power of Flight program has worked to conserve critical bird species in the Southeast since 2003, and these new grants will provide data, tools, strategies and community-based stewardship actions that are essential to protecting coastal birds that make up the fabric of the Gulf Coast ecosystems.&quot;</p>
<p>Since 2003, Southern Company and NFWF have worked through the Power of Flight program to restore and enhance more than 476,000 acres of high-priority habitat for bird species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker, northern bobwhite quail, coastal birds and others. To date, 87 Power of Flight-supported projects have been implemented across the region served by the Southern Company system's electric-utility subsidiaries.</p>
<p>&quot;We are excited to build on the successes achieved through the Power of Flight program with this latest round of grants from the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program,&quot; said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO at NFWF. &quot;Southern Company's commitment to conservation continues to benefit both wildlife and local communities.&quot; The following organizations have been awarded GCCGP grants supported by Southern Company to enhance coastal watersheds and bolster wildlife populations of the Gulf Coast:</p>
<p><b>Operation Migration</b>&nbsp;will conduct monitoring and outreach efforts in support of conserving the critically endangered whooping crane and building a self-sustaining population in the Southeast. Activities include tracking and monitoring young-of-year cranes following their release, as well as adult cranes in the population during north-south migration flights and spring nesting activities, and conducting web outreach to increase general awareness and provide migration progress updates.</p>
<p>The&nbsp;<b>Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute</b>&nbsp;will map the distribution, abundance, timing and habitat affiliations of birds during the spring and fall migrations around the Gulf Coast using weather radar and citizen-collected (eBird) data. Resulting maps will be used by conservation planners and policymakers as decision support tools to develop Gulf-wide conservation priorities for North America's migratory birds.</p>