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NFWF Announces Grants to Protect More Than 200,000 Acres in Seven States Through Walmart’s ...

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced the award of $4.95 million in grants through Walmart’s Acres for America program to seven land conservation projects aimed at permanently protecting more than 200,000 acres of vital wildlife habitat.

“Our commitment to help protect, manage and restore nature focuses on landscapes critical to our natural resources, wildlife, local communities and economies,” said Hunter Hart, Senior Vice President, Realty, Walmart U.S. “Through Walmart’s Acres for America program, we have supported efforts to conserve more than 1.8 million acres of land over the past 17 years to benefit people and the planet.”

Projects were selected based on their ability to permanently protect wildlife habitat of national significance, and to benefit local communities and local economies. In 2021, all seven projects will provide new ways for Americans to access the outdoors, including new state parks and wildlife refuges.

In Wisconsin, The Conservation Fund is working to conserve 70,000 acres that make up the largest unprotected block of privately-owned forest in the state. Known as the Pelican River Forest, this large landscape located east of Rhinelander connects blocks of national and county forests that collectively provide wildlife habitat for dozens of rare bird and mammal species. This sustainably managed working forest will be permanently protected from development, provide steady wood products for the forest industry, preserve water quality and provide public access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation.

“Ensuring the permanent protection and sustainable management of large, forested landscapes is not only essential to the local communities for jobs and recreational enjoyment, it is also one of the most effective strategies we have right now to combat climate change and support climate resilient habitats,” said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “We are grateful to NFWF and Walmart for supporting our effort to secure the future of Pelican River Forest.”

In Florida, the state will acquire and manage approximately 32,000 acres of wetlands and floodplain habitat along 38 miles of the Apalachicola River. The Apalachicola River is at the center of North America’s sixth-highest ranked biological diversity hot spot, supporting more than 1,500 native species of plants and animals, including many waterbird species and Gulf sturgeon. In addition, protection and improved management of the habitat will have direct benefits to downstream marine resources, including Apalachicola Bay oysters and Gulf of Mexico fisheries.

“Walmart’s commitment to preserving our natural heritage can serve as a wonderful example of what can be accomplished with a long-term dedication to conservation,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Over the past 17 years, the Acres for America program has helped to protect so many of the very best wildlife habitats in our country, while at the same time allowing people to enjoy and experience our shared natural heritage.”

This year, for the first time, NFWF was the beneficiary of a monthly “Round-Up” campaign on Walmart.com. During the month of June, the Acres for America program benefitted every time a customer chose to ‘round up’ when checking out online. As a result of the campaign, Walmart customers helped raise an additional $1 million for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which NFWF designated for additional support to the Acres for America program.

Acres for America began in 2005 when Walmart made an initial 10-year, $35 million commitment to purchase and preserve an acre of wildlife habitat in the United States for every acre of land developed by the company. Walmart’s commitment to the program was renewed for another 10 years in 2015, and the program has now had the combined effect of helping to protect more than 1.8 million acres across 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Over the past 17 years, Acres for America has funded more than 100 projects and has leveraged Walmart’s $60 million investment with matching contributions that have generated a total conservation impact of more than $1 billion.

The grants awarded in 2021 leverage an additional $131 million in matching contributions from grantees and their project partners for a total conservation impact of $136 million, supporting the following projects:

The Conservation Fund will permanently protect 44,173 acres within the Knutson Creek, Pile River, and Iliamna River watersheds in Alaska through conservation easements. The project will establish an indigenous conservation area that helps to connect 13.7 million acres of protected lands and will benefit the most productive salmon ecosystem in North America.The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will acquire approximately 32,000 acres of land that supports ecosystem functions and contains critical habitats including wetlands, floodplain and uplands within the Apalachicola River ecosystem in Florida. The project will protect this unique Florida landscape and ensure the land is managed to conserve and restore critical land, water and wildlife resources to benefit multiple rare and imperiled plant and animal species.The Trust for Public Land will permanently protect 30,000 acres of riparian, wetland and forest habitat in Lincoln, Flathead, and Sanders Counties in Montana that support 46 federally listed species including redband trout, hoary bat, northern goshawk, and northern alligator lizard. The project will also provide habitat connectivity between existing protected areas.The Trust for Public Land will acquire 52,870 acres of intact, climate resilient wildlife habitat in central New Mexico. This project will secure important wildlife corridors and eliminate the threat of future mineral development while also preserving important cultural resources and providing new recreational opportunities. The project will benefit a large number of species that rely on this area and will enhance connectivity between existing protected lands.The Rappahannock Tribe of Virginia will acquire 484 acres of indigenous ancestral homelands on the Rappahannock River to conserve as a natural area and to use for educational purposes befitting the Tribe and the public. The project will protect wetland and forest habitat adjacent to other projected lands and will benefit breeding and migratory habitat for bald eagles, ospreys, and waterfowl.The Nature Conservancy will protect 3,500 acres of habitat in the Canaan Valley/Dolly Sods region of West Virginia. The protected land will contribute to climate resilience, conserving wetlands and headwater areas and will help expand connections to 75,000 acres of existing conservation areas.The Conservation Fund will conserve 70,000 acres of privately-owned working forests and wetland habitat in Wisconsin while also continuing public recreational access and securing sustainable forest management. The project will protect valuable habitat for iconic species like wolves, northern goshawks, American marten and other key species, ensuring habitat connectivity between adjacent protected forest lands.

Learn more about the Acres for America program here, and more about the grants announced today here. And a short video about Acres for America can also be viewed here.

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 5,000 organizations and generated a conservation impact of $6.8 billion. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.

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Pelican River Forest in Wisconsin

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

Copyright 2021 GlobeNewswire, Inc.

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