Georgia Power and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced a total of eight environmental stewardship grants to continue the partnership’s mission of conserving natural resources and habitats.

The grants include:

  • Six new grants through the Power of Flight and Longleaf Legacy environmental stewardship programs
  • Continuation of a Power of Flight grant originally awarded in 2008
  • A contribution to a project within the Private Landowner Technical Assistance Program, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and NFWF

The grants are part of a commitment to environmental stewardship by Georgia Power, Southern Company and NFWF through the Power of Flight and Longleaf Legacy programs.

Since 2002, Southern Company and NFWF have provided more than $13.8 million through 108 Power of Flight and Longleaf Legacy grants. In addition, grant recipients have contributed more than $57.2 million in matching funds, resulting in an on-the-ground conservation impact of more than $71 million since the programs’ inception.

Through these two programs, more than 830,000 acres of longleaf pine and other critical habitat on public and private lands will be restored, enhancing bird populations across the Southeast.

"For nearly a decade, our environmental stewardship programs have helped restore and protect vital natural resources by drawing on the power of partnerships," said Ron Shipman, Georgia Power vice president of environmental affairs. "With these latest grants, we seek to strengthen existing relationships, build new ones and together continue the important work of habitat and wildlife conservation in the Southeast."

"Our ongoing partnerships with Georgia Power exemplify the benefits that accrue from innovative environmental stewardship," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "These investments are showing positive results in Georgia for native wildlife, lands and waters – some of our most precious natural resources."

Power of Flight, which focuses on conserving bird species of the Southeast, and Longleaf Legacy, a program for the longleaf pine ecosystem, are two of the three major components of Southern Company’s environmental stewardship partnership with NFWF. In addition, Five Star Restoration supports projects to protect and restore riparian (land-bordering waterways), in-stream, coastal, and wetland habitats.

The new Power of Flight grant recipients for projects in Georgia are:

  • Operation Migration USA Inc. – to utilize ultralight aircraft to guide young whooping cranes along a seven-state, 1,285-mile migration route each fall from Wisconsin to Florida. Ten generations of whooping cranes have been successfully taught this migratory route, which passes through Georgia. The current population consists of 105 cranes, 44 of which were reintroduced to the population through a previous Power of Flight grant. This project will continue assisted migrations for at least the next three years from a new base of operations at the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area in Green Lake County, Wis. The goal is to add 45 new birds to create a self-sustaining population of whooping cranes.
  • University of Georgia– to use State Botanical Garden-managed areas as demonstration sites for the public, promoting the conservation of high priority bird species of the southern United States. This project will remove invasive Chinese privet from 15 acres of highly degraded floodplain forest and establish canebrakes; develop Piedmont prairie habitat in a power line right-of-way using prescribed fire and horticultural enrichment with native grasses and forbs; implement several programmatic goals of Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan that promote conservation of high quality bird habitat; and conduct public outreach to create awareness of techniques for the protection and recovery of priority bird species.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – to complement a larger effort to repair 18 water control structures within a nine-mile diversion canal, with the goal of ensuring freshwater delivery to Savannah National Wildlife Refuge wetlands. The project area consists of 338 acres managed for waterfowl. Once restoration is complete, the Refuge will be able to return the wetlands to a management rotation. As the Refuge gains a greater degree of water control, restoration projects like this will enable the Refuge to continue to provide quality habitat for wetland-dependent wildlife.

And continuing support is being provided under a Power of Flight grant to Milliken Forestry Company to accelerate translocation efforts for the red-cockaded woodpecker. This is a continuation of a grant formerly made to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2008 for activities in Georgia and across the Southeast.

The new Longleaf Legacy grant recipients for projects in Georgia are:

  • The Nature Conservancy – to leverage an existing partnership between the Army and TNC to create a landscape-scale initiative with multiple stakeholders including Fort Benning and the surrounding area in west Georgia. The project will involve land protection, restoration and management of the longleaf pine ecosystem, eventually protecting 30,000 acres; promotion of public acceptance of longleaf protection and management strategies; development of scientific expertise to guide land protection, restoration, and management; and creation of a model landscape for implementing the America’s Longleaf Conservation Plan.
  • The Orianne Society – to support an ongoing effort to restore longleaf on the Orianne Indigo Snake Preserve (OISP) and the surrounding area in south Georgia. The Orianne Society will prepare land for longleaf restoration on an estimated 6,500 acres per year for two years. Of that total acreage, 520 acres of the OISP will be replanted with longleaf pine and native groundcover, and the area will be maintained in perpetuity through prescribed burning and other land management practices.
  • Georgia Forestry Commission – to assist 300 Natural Resource Conservation Service-Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program contracts. Foresters will makes sure all phases of reforestation occur, including site preparation, tree planting (and seedling care), and post-planting treatments where needed. More than 21,000 acres of longleaf will be planted during this part of the project. Technical service also will be provided to landowners with existing longleaf pine or suitable sites for establishment. This service will be provided via forest stewardship plans, primarily through contracting with consulting foresters throughout the priority area. More than 10,000 acres of longleaf sites will be evaluated and specific management and reforestation technical advice will be provided.

 

The Private Landowner Technical Assistance Program supports field biologists and other habitat professionals working with NRCS field offices, providing technical assistance to private landowners to optimize wildlife conservation on private lands. Longleaf Legacy is supporting a project in Georgia under this program

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources – to fund two DNR wildlife biologists located in NRCS offices in Albany and Fitzgerald, Ga. These biologists will provide technical guidance to landowners on the establishment and management of longleaf pine forests and associated native early succession ground cover. Habitat gains and representative avian response to these practices will be monitored on a sample of project sites

Additional information on Southern Company environmental stewardship, including fact sheets and details of previous grants, is available at www.southerncompany.com/planetpower.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates well below the national average. Georgia Power serves 2.4 million customers in all but four of Georgia’s 159 counties.

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 impact. Since its establishment, the Foundation has awarded more than 11,600 grants to more than 3,800 organizations in the United States and abroad and leveraged these grants into more than $2 billion for conservation. To learn more, visit www.nfwf.org.