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Building for the future through wetlands and wildlife conservation

When it comes to voluntary action to make a difference for the future, Southern Company is at the forefront. That is why for the past 12 years Southern Company has supported community based efforts to restore wetlands and wildlife in the Southeast through the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration grant program.

“The Southeast is a hotspot for threatened species and habitat,” explains Larry Monroe, chief environmental officer for Southern Company.

The program is a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other corporate sponsors. Southern Company, including its electric-utility subsidiaries, serves as the Southern region lead corporate sponsor.

The mission of the program is to develop community stewardship of local natural resources, conserving these resources for future generations and enhancing habitat for local wildlife. Grants are awarded to projects that represent the elements of a Five Star and Urban Waters project which include: 1) on the ground restoration; 2) environmental education; 3) diverse community partnerships; and 4) measurable results.

Southern Company’s longstanding support of the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration program highlights its commitment to community improvement and environmental stewardship. Since 2006, Southern Company has awarded almost $2.5 million through 109 grants to 61 organizations involving more than 375 community partners. This critical funding led to the restoration of 1,200 acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat. Most recently, the 2015 grant recipients received $300,000 in funding and restored nearly 83 acres of streambank, wetlands and forestlands.

“We can learn from each other in a way that will have a powerful and profound impact”

Eric Schwaab, vice president of conservation programs for NFWF

On Feb. 1, Southern Company, the NFWF and EPA recognized the 2015 grantees and celebrated their accomplishments with a plaque recognition ceremony and luncheon.

“This program is about you,” Jason Reynolds, environmental affairs director for Southern Company, said to event attendees. “You’re on the front lines.”

Grant recipients had the opportunity to share with those in attendance how their projects have impacted their communities thus far. Similar sentiments were shared at the event such as the importance of community partnerships and the unique educational opportunities available to students. Whether a classroom field trip or a corporate service day, residents have experienced a hands-on approach, dipping their toes into nature and developing a greater appreciation for conservation efforts. Grant recipients hope this appreciation will develop into action.

“This grant program connects people to the land so they can learn about it and steward it for the future,” explains Leslie Cox, environmental stewardship manager for Southern Company. “It helps us find healthy ways to coexist with the wildlife and habitat around us.”

To the 2015 grant recipients, the saying “a citizen wherever we serve,” is more than a tagline. It is a way of life and, together, they are building for a better future thanks to the Five Star and Urban Water Restoration grant program.

Congratulations to the 2015 Grant Recipients:

  • Crosby Arboretum Foundation in Picayune, MS
  • Jackson County Board of Supervisors in Moss Point, MS
  • The Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain in Ocean Springs, MS
  • Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance in Okaloosa and Walton Co.’s, FL
  • Davis Arboretum in Birmingham, AL
  • Red Mountain Park Fund in Birmingham, AL
  • Golden Triangle Resource Conservation and Development Council in Blakely, GA
  • Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell, GA
  • Dunwoody Nature Center in Dunwoody, GA
  • Atlanta Audubon Society in Atlanta, GA
  • Trees Atlanta in Atlanta, GA
  • Conservation Legacy in Atlanta, GA

Learn more about Southern Company’s support of the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration grant program.