The grants include $2.2 million in funding for 10 projects across Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi, which are home to Southern Company’s retail electric-utility subsidiaries. These projects are also strategically-located for longleaf pine conservation in areas including military bases, national forests and national wildlife areas.

The grants are a part of NFWF’s
Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a landmark public-private partnership that includes
the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service,
the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, Southern Company, International Paper’s Forestland Stewards
partnership, Altria Group, American Forest Foundation’s Southern
Woods for At-Risk Wildlife Initiative and Louis Bacon’s Orton
Foundation which is an affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation.

Longleaf Stewardship Fund
projects will restore more than 13,300 acres and enhance more than 270,000
additional acres of longleaf pine habitat across the historic longleaf range.
The projects supported by Southern Company will impact more than 199,000 acres,
of which 6,100 acres will be newly planted longleaf pine.

“We’re pleased to play a
role in restoring a remarkably diverse ecosystem that is deeply connected to
the culture and economic growth of our region,” said Southern Company
Environmental and System Planning Vice President Jeff Burleson.

“Through the landscape-scale
conservation approach of the Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a wide range of plants
and wildlife that depend on this critical habitat will benefit.”

The Longleaf Stewardship Fund
builds on the success of the Longleaf Legacy program, a partnership between
Southern Company and NFWF, which for eight years invested more than $8.7
million in projects to restore more than 87,000 acres of longleaf pine
forest and the native species that rely on the habitat. Another 20,000 acres
were restored through the company’s closely aligned Power of Flight program
with NFWF. To date, the longleaf pine forest has increased from 3 million acres
to a projected 4.7 million acres.

“The longleaf pine is an
iconic and beloved tree throughout most of the South, and the forests these
trees anchor represent some of our nation’s richest areas of
biodiversity”, said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO at
NFWF. “Restoring these vital habitats at such a large scale could not be
done without the cooperation and support of private landowners, federal
agencies, military installations, private corporations like Southern Company,
and a coalition of conservation organizations.”

The 2017 Longleaf Stewardship
Fund projects supported by Southern Company include:

The Fort Stewart-Altamaha
Longleaf Partnership
(Georgia) – The Longleaf
Alliance will coordinate with partners to establish 140 acres of longleaf pine,
treat an additional 21,600 acres with prescribed fire, and build a network of
public and private landowners focused on native groundcover restoration through
prescribed burns, native seed collection and planting. This project will
improve habitat for the gopher tortoise and other longleaf-dependent species on
public and private lands within close proximity to Fort Stewart and
Townsend Bombing Range.

The Okefenokee – Osceola Local
Implementation Team
(Georgia/Florida) – The
Nature Conservancy, Georgia will coordinate with partners to
establish 2,574 acres of longleaf pine and improve management of an additional
27,880 acres of existing longleaf habitat on public and private lands. Project
will continue training young people living below the poverty level to serve on
longleaf restoration teams, build prescribed fire capacity, and educate private
landowners through a prescribed fire manager certification session, two
landowner workshops and a longleaf academy.

Tall Timbers Research, Inc. (Georgia/Florida) and partners will install artificial nest
cavities and translocate 25 red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCWs) on private lands in
the Red Hills region of Florida and Georgia. Project will treat
more than 38,000 acres of existing longleaf with prescribed fire to improve and
maintain forage and nesting habitat for translocated RCWs.

The Talladega Mountain Longleaf
Conservation Partnership
(Alabama/Georgia) – The Nature
Conservancy, Alabama will coordinate with partners to establish 447
acres of longleaf pine and improve 17,700 acres of existing longleaf habitat
with prescribed fire on public and private lands with the support of a seasonal
fire crew. Project will develop a conservation plan to prioritize and guide
future restoration and conduct outreach to engage private landowners to restore
longleaf pine.

The Forest Landowners Association (Alabama/Florida/Georgia) will establish or enhance 2,000
acres of longleaf pine habitat and host Forest Forums and Timber Talks to bring
together landowners, USFWS and other key stakeholders. Project will engage
large working forest landowners and forest consultants in key longleaf pine
priority areas to increase communication and identify specific actions for
addressing barriers to longleaf restoration.

The Appalachicola Regional
Stewardship Alliance
(Florida) – The Nature
Conservancy, Florida will coordinate with partners to establish 862
acres of longleaf pine and improve more than 25,000 acres of existing longleaf
habitat through the use of prescribed fire and planting of native groundcover
on public and private lands. Project will benefit Tyndall Air Force Base,
improving habitat both on and off base for numerous wildlife species including
the eastern indigo snake, a federally-threatened species, as well as the gopher
tortoise and Bachman’s sparrow.

The Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem
Partnership
(Alabama/Florida) – The
Longleaf Alliance will coordinate with partners to establish 333 acres of longleaf
pine and improve an additional 55,350 acres of existing longleaf habitat
through prescribed fire and private landowner outreach and technical
assistance. Project will translocate 140 gopher tortoises, a candidate species
for possible listing under the Endangered Species Act, to high-quality, managed
land and provide technical assistance and educational opportunities for private
landowners, including a Longleaf Academy.

The Longleaf Alliance, Inc. (Alabama/Florida/Georgia/Mississippi) and partners will
translocate 60 red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCWs) to properties designated as
recovery sites by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Project will manage and
improve 6,000 acres of longleaf pine forest, providing high quality habitat for
RCW nesting and foraging.

The Alabama Wildlife Federation (Alabama) will provide technical assistance, outreach, and
information to private landowners, contractors, and resource professionals to
establish or enhance grassland habitat throughout Alabama. Project will
increase awareness of the ecological value of native grassland habitat, foster
a collaborative environment among project partners and restore 3,000 acres of
grassland habitat for northern bobwhite quail and other grassland birds.

The DeSoto-Camp Shelby Longleaf
Implementation
Team (Mississippi)
– The Nature Conservancy, Mississippi will coordinate with partners
to establish more than 745 acres of longleaf pine and enhance an additional
2,500 acres of existing longleaf habitat with prescribed fire on private lands
to benefit several rare species including the gopher tortoise, black pine snake
and dusky gopher frog. Project will engage 850 private landowners through
outreach and technical assistance and enroll 12 new landowners in stewardship
programs.

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