WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 22, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced 10 grant awards totaling $1.9 million to enhance coastal habitats, bolster fish and wildlife populations, and strengthen resilience along the Gulf of Mexico. Grantee organizations have committed approximately $6 million in match, generating a total conservation impact of nearly $7.9 million.

The grants were awarded through the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program (GCCGP), a partnership between the the Shell Marine & Wildlife Habitat Program, the Southern Company Power of Flight Program, SeaWorld’s Ocean Health Initiative, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), NFWF and others. This is the third year the program has administered grant awards.

The 2017 grant awards address three key strategies: 1) strengthening coastal resilience; 2) advancing conservation and management on private lands; and 3) conserving living resources. Grantees will enhance the conservation of key wildlife species, including sea turtles, marine mammals, waterfowl, the endangered Mississippi sandhill crane, and federally listed mussels species and Gulf sturgeon.

Altogether, the projects supported by these grants will sustain, restore or enhance more than 36,000 acres of coastal habitat along the Gulf of Mexico.

“Successful conservation programs operating at this scale wouldn’t be possible without bringing together the public and private sectors,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO at NFWF. “Innovative partnerships like these drive the overall success of the Gulf Coast Conservation Grant Program, which in turn ensures that critical on-the-ground conservation work gets done throughout the Gulf Coast.”

A full list of 2017 projects is available here.

“Shell is proud to partner with NFWF to support protection and restoration efforts on the Gulf Coast,” said Rick Tallant, GM of Gulf of Mexico’s East Assets. “This year, the projects we’re supporting with NFWF will ultimately lead to the restoration of over 250 acres of coastal habitat in Louisiana alone. Coastal Louisiana is an important place for Shell, home to thousands of our employees and contractors, and the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program is an excellent opportunity for us to collaborate on important work in conservation.”

The GCCGP is a competitive grants program that supports priority conservation needs of the Gulf that are not funded under NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund or other funding opportunities associated with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

“We believe in being a good steward wherever we serve and our support of the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program is one of the many ways we are doing that,” said Southern Company Environmental and System Planning Vice President Jeff Burleson. “Through the Power of Flight Program, we are helping to conserve critical bird species and improve the Gulf Coast’s ecosystem, which is inextricably tied to the health of our coastal economy and tourism.”

The GCCGP focuses on strategic conservation projects within coastal areas in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The program seeks to build and maintain the resilience of the Gulf Coast’s ecosystems, living resources and communities by supporting critical gaps in conservation and catalyzing conservation solutions through strategic planning, innovation and technology that can be applied at a landscape scale.

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,500 organizations and committed more than $3.8 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.

About Shell Oil Company
Shell Oil Company is an affiliate of the Royal Dutch Shell plc, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies with operations in more than 70 countries. In the U.S., Shell operates in 50 states and employs more than 20,000 people working to help tackle the challenges of the new energy future.

Environmental stewardship is one way Shell has continued to share benefits with communities over the past 100 years. Since 1999, Shell has focused our partnerships with many environmental NGOs in the U.S. to protect more than 13 million acres of wetlands, clean and remove 600,000 pounds of debris from shoreline and conserve more than 1.8 million acres of critical habitat.

About Southern Company
Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is America’s premier energy company, with 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity and 1,500 billion cubic feet of combined natural gas consumption and throughput volume serving 9 million customers through its subsidiaries. The company provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy through electric operating companies in four states, natural gas distribution companies in seven states, a competitive generation company serving wholesale customers across America and a nationally recognized provider of customized energy solutions, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and affordable prices that are below the national average. Through an industry-leading commitment to innovation, Southern Company and its subsidiaries are inventing America’s energy future by developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including carbon-free nuclear, 21st century coal, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency, and creating new products and services for the benefit of customers. Southern Company has been named by the U.S. Department of Defense and G.I. Jobs magazine as a top military employer, recognized among the Top 50 Companies for Diversity by DiversityInc, listed by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity and designated a Top Employer for Hispanics by Hispanic Network. The company has earned a National Award of Nuclear Science and History from the National Atomic Museum Foundation for its leadership and commitment to nuclear development and is continually ranked among the top energy companies in Fortune's annual World’s Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings. Visit our website at www.southerncompany.com.

About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 30,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States. The company's theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a publicly traded company. Visit www.seaworldentertainment.com for more information.




Rob Blumenthal
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
(202) 857-0166