Over $1.8 Million in Conservation Grants Announced by Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program

Innovative partnership works closely with communities to foster conservation

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), National Association of Counties (NACo) and the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) today announced that 53 community-led wetland, stream and coastal restoration projects across the nation have been awarded over $1.8 million in grants. In addition, the grantees have committed an additional $6.7 million in local project support, creating a total investment of over $8.5 million in projects that will restore wildlife habitat and urban waters and will engage thousands of volunteers in community-based environmental stewardship projects.

These grants are awarded through the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program, which began in 1999 as a partnership among NFWF, NACo, WHC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since its start, the program has supported over 700 projects with more than $7.5 million in federal funds, $5.8 million in private and corporate contributions and $56 million in matching funds at the local level. Major funding for the 2014 Five Star and Urban Waters program is provided by EPA, the U.S. Forest Service, FedEx, Southern Company, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Urban Refuges Program with additional support by PG &E, Alcoa Foundation and Bank of America.

"By joining forces in the Five Star and Urban Waters program, the public and private sectors have leveraged millions of dollars to support dynamic conservation work across the country," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "These grants provide a wonderful opportunity for community involvement by citizens who want to make a difference and contribute to a better future in their home cities and towns across America."

"Communities across the country are focused on revitalizing their urban waterways and the neighborhoods around them. Reconnecting people with urban waterways results in economic, environmental and social benefits to communities," said EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner. "Urban waters have the potential to be treasured centerpieces of urban revival. Healthy and accessible waters help grow local businesses and enhance educational, recreational, and social opportunities in the communities through which they pass."

"With a significant portion of our operations, people and facilities based in metropolitan centers, we highly value healthy urban spaces and appreciate the opportunity to invest in these restoration projects through financial contributions and team member volunteerism," said Mitch Jackson, vice president, Environmental Affairs and Sustainability, FedEx Corp. "Through NFWF and the FedEx EarthSmart Outreach program, FedEx team members work directly with local nonprofits to improve the urban spaces where they live and work. We congratulate the community groups that were selected to receive grants as a part of the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program."

"Everyone wins when we take care of our urban waters and community waterways," said USDA Forest Service Assistant Director for Urban and Community Forestry, Janette Davis. "We rely on our urban forests to protect clean water for drinking and for recreational opportunities in our cities."

"Water has been important to Southern Company throughout our century-long history, and actively supporting habitat and natural resource stewardship efforts in our communities is one of the tangible ways we demonstrate our commitment to the environment," said Southern Company Chief Environmental Officer Dr. Larry S. Monroe. "As a longtime contributor to this program, we applaud the grant recipients' efforts to protect, restore and enhance our local waterways through these grassroots initiatives."

The Five Star and Urban Waters 2014 winners were selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 200 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. These 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.

A complete list of the 2014 grants can be found here.

About The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nation's wildlife and habitats. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions. NFWF works with government, nonprofit and corporate partners to find solutions for the most intractable conservation challenges. Over the last three decades, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.3 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.

About FedEx Corporation

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $45 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world's most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 300,000 team members to remain "absolutely, positively" focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit http://news.fedex.com.

About Southern Company

With 4.4 million customers and nearly 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast through its subsidiaries. A leading U.S. producer of clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and a growing competitive generation company, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for energy innovation, excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are below the national average. Southern Company and its subsidiaries are leading the nation's nuclear renaissance through the construction of the first new nuclear units to be built in a generation of Americans and are demonstrating their commitment to energy innovation through the development of a state-of-the-art coal gasification plant. Southern Company has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense and G.I. Jobs magazine as a top military employer, listed by DiversityInc as a top company for Blacks and designated a 2013 Top Employer for Hispanics by Hispanic Network. The company received the Edison Award from the Edison Electric Institute for its leadership in new nuclear development, was named Electric Light & Power magazine's Utility of the Year for 2012 and is continually ranked among the top utilities in Fortune's annual World's Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings. Visit our website at www.southerncompany.com.

About The National Wildlife Refuge System

The National Wildlife Refuge System protects wildlife and wildlife habitat on more than 150 million acres of land and water from the Caribbean to the Pacific, Maine to Alaska. Refuges also improve human health, provide outdoor recreation and support local economies. Visit our home page at www.fws.gov/refuges.

About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov.



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