WASHINGTON - The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Association of Counties (NACo) and the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) announced that the Five Star Restoration Program will award new grants totaling $765,429 to 27 different community-led wetland and streamside restoration projects nationwide. These communities have committed an additional $2.2 million in local project support.
The Five Star Restoration Program, founded in 1999, receives major funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Southern Company and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E) Nature Restoration Trust. This year, projects in California are also receiving funds from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Since its founding, Five Star has supported 478 projects with more than $4.1 million in federal funds, $900,000 in corporate contributions and $12.5 million in matching funds at the local level.
"America needs more people to step up and become stewards of our precious wetlands," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, "and the Five Star Restoration program specializes in fostering exactly this type of conservation ethic. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is extremely proud to collaborate with a diverse range of partners to continue to build community connections across America through the program."
"EPA is proud to support the Five Star Restoration Program because of the opportunities it provides communities acting through partnerships to restore and improve wetlands, streams and coasts," said EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water, Michael H. Shapiro.
"PG&E is delighted to support habitat and wetlands restoration projects in the communities we serve," said Steven L. Kline, vice president of corporate environmental and federal affairs for PG&E Corporation. "Environmental stewardship is one of our company's core values, and supporting these projects is one of the ways that we're able to continue to conserve California's diverse habitats."
"Southern Company is proud of its longstanding partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to provide conservation challenge grants to leading organizations throughout the Southeast," said Chris Hobson, Southern Company's senior vice president for research and environmental affairs. "The Five Star grants serve to further the important grassroots efforts working on-the-ground to restore and protect our wetlands, streams and coasts and the wildlife that inhabit them."
"On behalf of the nation's counties, I congratulate the 2009 NACo Five Star grantees," said NACo President Don Stapley, supervisor, Maricopa County, Ariz. "NACo is very proud of its longstanding support of the Five Star Restoration Program. Counties and their partners across the country are fostering environmental stewardship and building diverse partnerships that promise to restore and protect the environment well into the future."
Major funding for the program comes from EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. In addition to federal funding, PG&E has committed $1 million over three years through its Nature Restoration Trust, and Southern Company has committed $1.2 million over five-years to Five Star.
The Five Star 2009 winners were selected from a competitive pool of more than 165 applications. Consideration for funding is based upon the educational and training opportunities for youth and the community at large, the ecological and other cultural and economic benefits to the community. Five Star projects must also involve a high degree of partnership between local government agencies, elected officials, community groups, businesses, schools, and environmental organizations for improving local water quality and restoring important fish and wildlife habitats. For a full list of the 2009 grant winners please visit www.nfwf.org/fivestar and http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/restore/5star/ .
In Northwest Georgia, the Conasauga River Alliance will partner with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Tennessee Aquarium Aquatic Research Institute, Badger Farm Bed and Breakfast, Murray County Public Works, and the Limestone Valley RC&D Council to restore the heavily silted Colvard Spring. Cleaning the stream will improve vital habitat for the Georgia-listed Coldwater darter. Georgia Department of Natural Resources proposes to evaluate Colvard as a safe-guard population site for Tennessee yellow-eyed grass, a federal endangered wetland plant of the Limestone Ridge and Valley Province. The project will result in the restoration of a 1.5 acre spring pool habitat and a demonstration workshop for county, landowner, and resource managers.
In New Mexico, the Sky Island Alliance will partner with the New Mexico Environment Department, U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore a degraded creek and wetland. This project will reconnect one of the largest desert ciÃ©negas to its subsurface water source and protect a large population of Chiricahua leopard frogs. Cloverdale CiÃ©nega is a historic wetland of approximately 150 acres of which 90 acres has dried. Partners on the project will remove all levees and plug the spillway gully with material from the removal of the levees as a coordinated set of restoration treatments. The water table is expected to rise, and the ciÃ©nega surface should become fully saturated, eventually killing the upland species that have invaded the site, as a natural transition back to a wetland plant community occurs over the next decade.
In California, Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County will partner with the Water District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Soquel Neighborhood Alliance, Natural Resources Conservation Service, County Weed Management and several local schools to restore 1.25 acres of degraded riparian habitat. The project will reduce invasive plant species along lower Soquel Creek where the steelhead population is declining. This restoration project will lead to a more educated community with conservation values and place-based connections with Soquel Creek by involving students and the public in hands-on restoration and educational activities.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. Founded in 1935, NACo provides essential services to the nation's 3,068 counties. NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public's understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research, and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. For more information about NACo, visit www.naco.org.
The Wildlife Habitat Council is a nonprofit, non-lobbying organization dedicated to increasing the quality and amount of wildlife habitat on corporate, private and public lands. WHC devotes its resources to building partnerships with corporations and conservation groups to create solutions that balance the demands of economic growth with the requirements of a healthy, biodiverse and sustainable environment. More than 2.4 million acres in 48 states, Puerto Rico and 16 other countries are involved in WHC-assisted projects. For more information, visit WHC online at www.wildlifehc.org.
A nonprofit established by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation sustains, restores and enhances the Nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Through leadership conservation investments with public and private partners, NFWF is dedicated to achieving maximum conservation impact by developing and applying best practices and innovative methods for measurable outcomes. Since its establishment, NFWF has awarded over 10,000 grants to over 3,500 organizations in the United States and abroad and leveraged - with its partners - more than $600 million in federal funds into more than $1.5 billion for on-the-ground conservation. For more information, visit www.nfwf.org.
Press Release found at the Outdoor Wire