WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 28, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced 46 grants totaling $1.7 million to improve water quality and aquatic habitat that will benefit species and communities in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Grantees have pledged an additional $4.4 million, creating a total conservation impact of more than $6.1 million.

The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program awarded these grants to advance community stewardship of local natural resources across the country. The 46 projects will restore urban waters and wildlife habitat and generate recreation opportunities in priority watersheds nationwide through direct engagement with community members of all ages to implement restoration and monitoring projects.

Programmatic support for the 2019 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program is contributed by the Wildlife Habitat Council. Major funding is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, FedEx, Shell Oil Company, Southern Company and BNSF Railway.

“The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program supports community partnerships that restore and enhance our nation’s fish and wildlife, while at the same time improving water quality and habitat for plants and animals,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The 46 grants announced today will help local communities thrive by increasing resilience, improving green infrastructure and supporting the people and wildlife that call these places home.”

The program chose 2019 awardees from an extremely competitive pool of more than 190 applications. The winning projects comprise extensive local partnership between community groups, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools and businesses.

A full list of 2019 projects is available here.

Since 1999, the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program has supported almost a thousand projects, with more than $12.8 million in federal funds, $11.3 million in private and corporate contributions, and $78.8 million in local matching funds.

Partner Quotes

“EPA is pleased to continue our support for this innovative public-private partnership that encourages community stewardship and incentivizes local solutions to today’s environmental and public health challenges,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These projects will help local communities improve water quality, restore wetlands, and protect wildlife while creating additional recreational opportunities for the surrounding areas.”

“FedEx is proud to work with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help improve urban spaces across the country,” said Mitch Jackson, chief sustainability officer, FedEx Corp. “Through our collaboration with NFWF, our team members are able to work directly with non-profits to create long-lasting environmental and social improvements in the communities where they live and work.”

“Southern Company is committed to helping protect and conserve our shared natural resources for future generations,” said Stan Connally, Southern Company executive vice president of operations. “Our longstanding partnerships with NFWF and the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program are vital to our commitment to improve our communities and make customers’ lives better. The latest grants in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada and Virginia restore wildlife habitat and urban waters for those we are privileged to serve across our footprint.”

“Through our partnership with NFWF, private funders, and other federal agencies, the Forest Service is proud to help communities accomplish their restoration goals,” said Vicki Christiansen, chief of the USDA Forest Service. “We are committed to sustaining our nation’s forests, grasslands, and watersheds through partnerships that engage people directly in shared stewardship of their natural resources.”

“We are extremely pleased to work with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and with partners across the country,” said Jerome Ford, U.S. Fish and Wildlife assistant director for migratory birds. “Twenty years after the Urban Bird Treaty Cities program was founded, Five Star grants are helping cities connect people to birds, creating more vibrant, healthier communities.”

“We work with great partners across the country to bring outdoor recreation and conservation programs to America’s cities and suburbs,” said Cynthia Martinez, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chief of the National Wildlife Refuge system. “We are thrilled that our urban wildlife refuge partnerships are helping to deepen Americans’ ties to nature and enrich their lives.”

“The Five Star and Urban Waters programs strengthen the work that we’re currently doing to support killer whale conservation efforts in the Pacific Northwest,” said Shirley Yap, who serves as the general manager of Shell’s Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes, Wash. “Southern resident killer whales are embedded in the fabric of our region’s cultural heritage, and we’re proud to partner with so many leading organizations from across the region to preserve water resources for future generations and enhance habitat for local wildlife.”

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 generated a conservation impact of more than $5.3 billion. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.

About the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. EPA believes environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive and that all parts of society -- communities, individuals, businesses and state, local and tribal governments -- have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks. www.epa.gov.

About FedEx Corp.
FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services.  With annual revenues of $70 billion, the company offers integrated business solutions 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 450,000 team members to remain focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities.  To learn more about how FedEx connects people and possibilities around the world, please visit http://about.fedex.com.

About Southern Company
Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is nationally recognized as a leading 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 as of December 31, 2017. We operate nearly 200,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines and more than 80,000 miles of natural gas pipeline as of December 31, 2017.

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 in 11 states across America and a nationally recognized provider of customized energy solutions, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Visit our website at www.southerncompany.com to learn more.

About the U.S. D. A. Forest Service
The mission of the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30% of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System. https://www.fs.fed.us/

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.www.fws.gov

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 16,000 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.

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Rob Blumenthal
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
(202) 857-0166
rob.blumenthal@nfwf.org