October 3, 2017
Southern Company, in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and other public and private partners, has awarded $2.5 million in grants to 65 community-led projects nationwide as part of the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program.
Southern Company's funding of the 2017 grants directly supports nine habitat-restoration projects across three states in the Southeast, including Alabama, Florida and Georgia - which are home to Southern Company's retail electric-utility subsidiaries - helping to restore more than 89 acres and 9,850 feet of streambank.
"Southern Company is proud to continue our long-standing commitment to natural resource conservation and stewardship through the Five Star and Urban Waters Program," said Southern Company Environmental and System Planning Vice President Jeff Burleson. "By preserving and protecting our wetlands and streams, we are giving back to the customers and communities we are privileged to serve."
The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program provides funding to diverse local partnerships for wetland, forest, streamside and coastal habitat restoration. In addition to Southern Company and NFWF, other public-private partners include the Wildlife Habitat Council, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, FedEx, Bank of America and Alcoa.
Since 2006, Southern Company has contributed $2.78 million to 118 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration grants, resulting in an on-the-ground conservation impact of more than $13.3 million, which has helped restore or improve nearly 1,300 acres and more than 137,000 feet of streamside buffer in the Southeast.
"These community-led projects will engage thousands of volunteers, students and local residents in the restoration of wetlands, streams and coastal habitats across the nation," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "The critical work done by our grantees will build on a long history of conservation success made possible by the public- and private-sector partners supporting the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program."
Grant recipients were selected based on criteria that included critical habitat restoration, partnerships established with local government agencies and businesses, and their 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 2017 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration grants supported by Southern Company:
Upper Village Creek Tree Canopy Restoration - The Nature Conservancy and partners will restore 1.7 acres and perform invasive plant removal along 1,000 linear feet of streambank at Village Creek. This project will engage the community in restoring Birmingham, Ala.'s tree canopy, thereby enhancing local air and water quality. Partners include the City of Birmingham, Cawaco RC&D Council Inc., Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve and Village Creek Human and Environmental Justice Society.
Irondale Riverwalk Restoration - The Freshwater Land Trust and partners will restore, stabilize and replant a 0.18-acre riparian buffer to enhance water quality and stabilization of the Cahaba River in eastern Jefferson County, Ala. This project will remove invasive species, establish native species and enhance riparian areas to increase local biodiversity and enhance recreational opportunities for the local community. Partners include City of Irondale, Cahaba Blueway Partners, Church of the Highlands, Cahaba River Society and Grow Irondale.
Citizen Science and Community-based Restoration for the Coastal Dune Lakes of Walton County - The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance and partners will work to improve 70 acres of aquatic habitat and restore four acres of dune habitat. Through community-based restoration and citizen-scientist initiatives, this project will expand the understanding of the globally rare, critically imperiled Coastal Dune Lakes of Walton County, Fla. Partners include Mattie M. Kelly Environmental Institute, Walton County Board of County Commissioners, Silver Sands School and local volunteers.
Creekside Trail Restoration and Education at Stroud Elementary - Howard B. Stroud Elementary School and partners will restore a ¾-mile creek-side trail, 4,500 linear feet of riparian habitat and 48 acres of surrounding forest to directly improve water quality and aquatic and terrestrial habitat. This project will provide learning opportunities to Stroud Elementary students and the local community in water quality monitoring and protection, plant and animal life, wetland function, and educational and career opportunities in the environmental protection field. Partners include Clarke County District, Watershed UGA, Athens-Clarke County Stormwater, Kiwanis, Oconee River Land Trust, Chicopee-Dudley Neighborhood Association, Upper Oconee Watershed Network, EcoReach, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Geologic Survey and US Environmental Protection Agency.
Beech Haven Restoration through Athens Youth Conservation Stewards - The Athens Land Trust and partners will establish a corps of Athens Youth Conservation Stewards (AYCS) to remove woody invasive species on 25 acres and improve wildlife habitat and water quality. This project will provide teens from underserved communities with employment experience and leadership skills while improving an important public space in their community. Partners include Athens-Clarke County Unified Government, Oconee River Greenway Commission, Great Promise Partnership, Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful, Oconee Rivers Audubon Society and local volunteers.
Urban Stewardship and Restoration for Proctor and Utoy Watersheds - EcoAddendum and partners will restore 6.2 acres of floodplain, Piedmont mesic hardwood forest, 4,350 linear feet of streambank and 100 feet of riparian vegetation in the Proctor Creek watershed in west Atlanta. This project will implement restoration planning, on-the-ground community-based habitat restoration and educational outreach to help manage stormwater runoff, improve habitat connectivity and promote an environmentally-aware citizenry. Partners include City of Atlanta Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Beech Hollow Farms, Park Pride, City of Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission, Hauser Consulting, Trees Atlanta, Arborguard, Sheer Ecological and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.
Urban Gardens and Wetland Restoration at Gwinnett Technical College - The Gwinnet Tech Foundation and partners will protect and restore .9 acres of existing wetlands on the campus of Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Georgia in metro Atlanta. This project will engage students, staff and the community in capturing and treating stormwater runoff and protect downstream waters. Partners include Gwinnett Tech Foundation, Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources, UGA Extension Gwinnett County Public Schools and Gwinnett Coalition.
Restoring Bird-friendly Habitat at Blue Heron Nature Preserve - The Atlanta Audubon Society and partners will replace invasive species with native, bird-friendly plants on three acres and conduct avian surveys at the Land O'Lakes unit of Blue Heron Nature Preserve. Project will engage 50 volunteers and three-hundred participants in educational outreach and provide quality foraging, nesting and stopover habitat for birds in metro Atlanta. Partners include Blue Heron Nature Preserve, Rock Springs Restoration, Greening Youth Foundation, Georgia Native Plant Society, Amphibian Foundation and National Audubon.
Marsh Protection Promenade - The Savannah Tree Foundation and partners will improve 70 yards of marshline and tidal creek water quality, filter 1.7 acres surface area of stormwater runoff and reduce erosion on the campus of Savannah State University in Chatham County, Ga. This project will augment both the immediate and long-term health of coastal marsh habitat and provide educational and recreational benefits to the local community. Partners include Savannah State University, One Hundred Miles, Healthy Savannah and Town of Thunderbolt.