News Article | May 18, 2017
For the last six years, McHugh was President and founder of McHugh Environmental Associates and has worked on a wide-range of natural resource projects, including administering the $100 million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Grant Program for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Prior to opening his firm, McHugh served as Director of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, implemented one the of the first state programs for natural resource damages and was a public trustee representative for the US Department of Commerce in NOAA's Great Lakes Chicago offices. McHugh was also a New Jersey Commissioner for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in Washington DC and Board President for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. He has presented and participated in many conferences in the US, including the American Law Institute/America Bar Association's Environmental Law courses and the 2005 White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation. "Marty McHugh is one of the early champions of green infrastructure and nature-based restoration and resilience projects," said Elliott Bouillion, President and CEO of RES. "He is a natural fit for RES because his vast experience in policy and program management helps bring creative, streamlined, long-term environmental solutions to our clients." About RES Founded in 2007, RES is one of the fastest-growing environmental companies in the US and has been recognized with numerous awards by the Environmental Business Journal for excellence in restoration and business achievement. RES is known for proactively managing operational risk in environmentally sensitive areas by navigating complex regulations and streamlining permitting for economic development. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/environmental-expert-martin-j-mchugh-jd-joins-res-as-client-solutions-manager-300459776.html
News Article | May 22, 2017
Transmission lines may be eyesores for most people but for songbirds, the forest around them might just be critical habitat. A team of researchers want to see if these birds are populating land cleared along the route of a powerline—as well as areas that have been recently logged—in New Hampshire and Maine. In other parts of the country, the shrubby habitat of these younger forests have been found to offer much-needed protection for the birds from predators, as well as a steady diet of insects and fruit. One of the researchers says these habitats are "incredibly important" for the songbirds in those parts of northern New England. "Our goal is to get a better understanding for how these habitats function in our landscape," said Matt Tarr, a wildlife specialist at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. Tarr and his colleagues will catch the songbirds in mist nests starting later this month, band them and then track them over the next two years. They will be focused on 24 transmission line rights of way and 12 areas that been logged in southeastern New Hampshire and southern Maine. Tarr said there are as many as 40 species of songbirds that nest in young forests and another group that nest in mature forests. "However, there is growing evidence suggesting that after their birds finish their nesting and the young leave the nest, they leave mature forests and come into the young forest to complete their development." The nearly $250,000 study is being funded by the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service as well as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's New England Forests and Rivers Fund. A contributor to the New England fund is the utility Eversource, which has proposed the Northern Pass energy transmission project that has sparked criticism from property owners, tourism officials and others. Northern Pass entails building a 192-mile electricity transmission line from Pittsburg to Deerfield, New Hampshire, carrying enough Hydro-Quebec energy to southern New England markets to power about a 1.1 million homes. Tarr said the study isn't about finding an upside to transmission lines but rather trying to determine how birds use the forests that emerge after a project is built. "It helps us understand how transmission lines function in providing that habitat on the landscape," he said. The information they get could be critical to policymakers as they work to create more young forests for birds as well as other species like cottontail rabbits in New England. "Do they have positive effects or do they have negative effects?" he said. "We might find these rights of way aren't used as we think they are for mature forest birds. That would be important for us to know."
News Article | May 24, 2017
With 28 restaurants currently committed to the program, and plans to expand that number this year, ACF partners with Republic to collect oyster shells from coastal restaurants three times per week. The shells are then transported to the Alabama Marine Resources Division where they undergo a curing process. Once ready, the repurposed shells are then deposited in designated locations along the Alabama coast where they become the building blocks of newly restored oyster beds. "We are committed to being a good neighbor in the communities we are fortunate to serve," said Jamey Amick, area president at Republic Services. "This means providing our customers with sustainable solutions while fulfilling our promise to responsibly regenerate the environment with the materials we are entrusted to handle every day. We are proud to partner with the ACF, and to support their efforts to help rehabilitate the oyster harvests along the Alabama coast." More than 40 percent of the nation's seafood is derived from the Gulf Coast. Sustaining and replenishing the habitat for the Gulf Coast marine life is vital to Alabama's economy and environment. In addition to food value, oysters provide many other ecosystem benefits, including: In its infancy, the program has already collected over 2 million oyster shells, which is equal to the weight of approximately 40 adult elephants. That is enough oyster shells to fill 31 waste collection trucks, or cover 5.5 acres in the Gulf. About Alabama Coastal Foundation The Alabama Coastal Foundation's mission is to improve and protect Alabama's coastal environment through cooperation, education and participation. The organization pursues practical solutions to conservation challenges in a non-partisan manner. ACF is dedicated to partner with businesses, local government and other non-profits to achieve common ground solutions to our environmental problems. To learn more about our programs, become a member, or volunteer, visit: www.joinACF.org. Connect with us on social media - "Like" ACF on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AlabamaCoastalFoundation and follow on Twitter and Instagram @AlabamaCoastal. About the Alabama Oyster Shell Recycling Program The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is providing the funding for this project as a part of the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program (GCCGP). This project is being led by the Alabama Coastal Foundation. To ensure the success of this project, ACF has established an Advisory Committee including restaurant owners and chefs in addition to representatives from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant, and the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program. The first phase of the project began along the Causeway in October of 2016 and expanded with restaurants in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores in spring of 2017. About Republic Services Republic Services, Inc. (NYSE: RSG) is an industry leader in U.S. recycling and non-hazardous solid waste. Through its subsidiaries, Republic's collection companies, recycling centers, transfer stations and landfills focus on providing effective solutions to make proper waste disposal effortless for their commercial, industrial, municipal, residential and oilfield customers. We'll handle it from here.TM, the brand's promise, lets customers know they can count on Republic to provide a superior experience while fostering a sustainable Blue PlanetTM for future generations to enjoy a cleaner, safer and healthier world. For more information, visit the Republic Services website at RepublicServices.com. "Like" Republic on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RepublicServices and follow on Twitter @RepublicService. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/first-of-its-kind-oyster-shell-recycling-program-launches-in-alabama-300463241.html
News Article | May 26, 2017
One of Rick Levick's earliest memories is seeing two smooshed snapping turtles along a causeway that cuts through this at-risk reptile's wetland habitat, Lake Erie's Long Point peninsula in southern Ontario, where he's been cottaging since 1956. In 2006, he helped launch a fight to save these critters—and after ten long years, it's a stunning success in protecting animals and their habitats, one that came from the grassroots. The Long Point Causeway, which allows tourists and cottagers access to Lake Erie's famous sandy beaches, was constructed in the 1920s. Surveys performed by the Canadian Wildlife Service indicate that, since 1979, there have been years where about 10,000 animals were killed by cars zooming along this 3.6 kilometre (two-mile) stretch of road. It's right on the border of the Big Creek National Wildlife Area, which is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. "This whole project came together when some concerned citizens called a meeting and presented the problem to a group representing all kinds of different community organizations and government agencies," Levick told Motherboard in a phone call. "'We've been running over turtles for years,so why bother?' That's probably what they said before the buffalo disappeared." That was the beginning of a remarkable effort described in a study published today in the Wildlife Society Bulletin. The paper, by McMaster University biologist Chantel Markle, shows that road mortality of endangered reptiles has gone down 89 percent after fencing and culverts (dug-out tunnels that allow the turtles access to the sandy beaches where they lay their eggs) were installed along the Long Point Causeway. The final culvert was installed this January. "It was a problem we were all aware of. If you lived in the Long Point area and if you were a cottager like myself, you've seen turtles killed on the road for years," said Levick. Between the years 2008 and 2010, 6,000 meters of fencing was installed along the roadway. The area is home to many threatened and endangered creatures, like the Blanding's turtle, the ribbonsnake, and the snapping turtle. These critters don't just face threat from road mortality: it's illegal to harm, collect, buy, or sell them. The team who built the tunnels and fences to protect these animals have even kept many specifics under wraps, to avoid tipping off potential poachers. This has been successful so far, but it wasn't all smooth sailing. "We did have some opposition," said Levick. "It was people very skeptical that we could do anything that said: 'Well we've been running over turtles for years, and they're still here, so why bother?' Of course, that's probably what they said just before the buffalo disappeared." Other residents were worried about the cost of the project, which ended up being about $2.7 million spread out over ten years. But Levick and his group found creative ways to fund the effort, with grants from Environment Canada and the US National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. An illustrated children's book by a local resident, called Never Give Up, has also helped raise funds. Only a small portion of the cost came from local coffers. Read More: Millions of Canadian Lakes Could Hold Clues About Ancient Life These turtles can live for up to 90 years, so it's hard to quantify right now exactly how much the population has bounced back. But the average number of turtles heading onto the road is down by 89 percent, and snakes are down by 28 percent. Markle hopes that these techniques can be brought into other areas that threaten local wildlife. She told me the trial and error that this one community went through—a decade of effort, and a price tag of $2.7 million—can save others similar time and effort in the future. The study also helped discover "how best to monitor this type of work," Markle explained. "How many years you should be doing it for? What type of equipment to monitor the culverts with?" Markle sees the Long Point project as a sort of citizen science that gets results. The community embraced the efforts, reaching out the to the research team when they observed turtles on their yard and properties. "It was a really great opportunity to meet the local people as well as the tourists who are coming in and enjoying the trails, and checking out the park and the marsh," she explained. "We would get to talk to them and share our work on a day-to-day, person-to-person basis, which was amazing." Now, with all this work, there's a lot more harmony between the human and animal residents of Long Point peninsula, a harmony that can be shared with others. Subscribe to Science Solved It, Motherboard's new show about the greatest mysteries that were solved by science.
News Article | April 19, 2017
Welligent and the Elizabeth River Project partnered to build a rain garden that will decrease pollution of local waterways in Norfolk, VA. Welligent, a Norfolk-based Electronic Health Record (EHR) company, began working on a rain garden project that will benefit local waterways in collaboration with the Elizabeth River Project today. Rain gardens help restore the health of local waterways, reduce polluted runoff from parking lots, yards, and walkways, and make use of native plants and a special soil mix allowing filtered water to drain back into groundwater systems. The project planning began when local Norfolk Academy student, Spencer McCraw, was assigned a school project to initiate environmental conservation. Spencer is a Chesapeake Bay Fellow at Norfolk Academy. The mission of the Chesapeake Bay Fellows program is to prepare civic leaders to effect the restoration and ultimate conservation of the Chesapeake Bay. Spencer saw this school assignment as the ultimate opportunity to create a lasting environmental conservation project. He collaborated with his father—co-owner of Welligent, Andrew McCraw—to increase his access to local environmental organizations. Andrew McCraw initiated a partnership with Pam Boatwright, River Stars Businesses Program Manager of the Elizabeth River Project. The Elizabeth River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, has long been infamous for pollution. Through strategic government, business, and community partnerships, the Elizabeth River Project aims to restore the Elizabeth River to the highest practical level of environmental quality. Boatwright is leading the development project for a rain garden that will help Welligent become a River Stars Business. When asked about the project, she commented, “Welligent’s beautiful rain garden is an impressive project! The effort exemplifies River Star Businesses and benefits all parties involved. It will reduce flooding and erosion on the property, while keeping pollution out of the river.” River Stars Businesses partner with the Elizabeth River Project team on various projects that contribute to the conservation of wildlife habitats and reduction of pollution in our local ecosystems. Since the program began in 1997, River Star Businesses have documented: 1,787 acres of wildlife habitat created or conserved; 331 million pounds of pollution reduced; and more than 1 billion pounds of other materials reduced and/or recycled. Welligent is proud to be part of such an extraordinary conservation effort. Also part of the rain garden project is Bay Environmental, a Virginia-based small business corporation providing comprehensive environmental services for property transactions, development, and redevelopment, maintenance projects, industrial services, and contracting and spill response in the Middle Atlantic States. The company contributed staff and equipment to auger five “dry wells” and two long trenches in the ground where VDOT gravel was placed to help slowly filter water. A unique soil composed of 50% sand, 30% topsoil, and 20% compost will absorb pollutants before the water returns to the ground. The City of Norfolk provided native plants for the garden through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant.
News Article | May 7, 2017
Alaska’s salmon season officially gets underway in less than two weeks. The first fishery for sockeye and king salmon is set for May 18 at Copper River and the town of Cordova is buzzing, said Christa Hoover, executive director of the Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association. “The mood changes at the start of May with all the folks back in town and boats going in and out of the water,” she said. Enthusiasm among the fleet of more than 500 drift gillnetters has not been dampened by a reduced harvest projection. Fishery managers expect a Copper River salmon catch this season of just 889,000 sockeyes, 4,000 kings and 207,000 coho salmon. “Regardless of the forecast from one year to the next, fishermen just want to have their nets in the water. It’s what they do and they are ready to go,” Hoover said. The marketing group, which is funded and operated by local salmon fishermen, is again working with Alaska Airlines to whisk away the first catches to awaiting retailers and restaurants in Seattle. Every year, images of airline pilots carrying the famous “first fish” off the plane make headlines around the world and add to the media hoopla surrounding the Copper River catches. The salmon are first hand delivered to three chefs who have a cook off on the Sea/Tac airport tarmac. The dishes are served to airline guests who select a winner. The Cordova group also use the opportunity to promote the fact that Copper River salmon isn’t just a “May event,” Hoover said. “We do a lot of outreach to help people understand that there are five months of wild Alaska salmon coming out of Cordova, especially with cohos into the fall,” she explained, adding that they also are broadening their salmon messages to build more awareness and appeal for the entire Prince William Sound fishery. Alaska’s total salmon catch for 2017 is pegged at 204 million fish, nearly one million more than were taken last year. The breakdown for the five species calls for a sockeye salmon harvest of nearly 41 million, a decrease of 12 million reds from last year. Coho catches should increase slightly to nearly 5 million; for chums, a catch of nearly 17 million is an increase of more than one million fish. The projected statewide take of pink salmon is 142 million, an increase of nearly 103 million humpies over last year. For Chinook salmon, the forecast calls for a catch of 80,000 in regions outside of Southeast Alaska, where the harvest is determined by a treaty with Canada. The all-gear Chinook catch for Southeast in 2017 is 209,700 fish, 146,000 fewer than last year. Alaska salmon fishermen hoping for relief funds from last year’s failed pink salmon fishery appear to be out of luck. The pink fishery, the worst in over 40 years, was officially declared a failure in January by former US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, setting the stage for fishermen and other stakeholders at Kodiak, Prince William Sound and Lower Cook Inlet to seek disaster assistance from the federal government. The monetary assistance, however, was not included in last week’s huge $1 trillion-plus spending bill approved by Congress to keep the government operating through September. The bill also did not include disaster relief funds for West Coast salmon and crab fisheries. Congress could choose to appropriate the money separately, but chances of that happening are slim. For 20 years, the movement to use the “power of the purse” to promote and reward sustainably managed fisheries has set a global standard for seafood purchases. Today, it’s nearly impossible for a company to do business without being officially certified as a source for earth-friendly seafood. This month another global effort was launched that uses the same strategy to promote new standards for the use of antibiotics in seafood and other animal products. The Michigan-based National Sanitation Foundation International has tested food products for health and safety since 1944. Its new Raised Without Antibiotics certification program will provide independent verification of claims made on food packages that they are antibiotic-free, including seafood, meats, dairy, eggs, even leather and certain supplements. The campaign follows a NSF survey last year that showed nearly 60 percent of consumers prefer products that are free from antibiotics. That’s backed up by the NPD Group, a market tracker that operates in 20 countries, interviews 12 million consumers each year and monitors purchase data from more than 165,000 stores. The Group said that consumers are demanding “free from” foods with fewer additives, especially antibiotics, growth hormones, tweaked genes, and they are reading labels like never before. Antibiotics are widely used in the farmed fish industry, most notably in Chile (the largest importer to the US), which has come under fire for using more than one million pounds of antibiotics to ward off a fish virus, according to the National Service of Fisheries and Aquaculture. What’s worse, Intrafish reported that 50 Chilean salmon companies refused to disclose the amount and type of antibiotics they used, saying “such disclosure would threaten their business competitiveness.” In contrast, Norway, the world’s biggest farmed salmon producer, uses about 2,100 pounds of antibiotics, mostly to combat fish lice. Sea lice are the farmed Atlantic salmon industry’s most expensive problem, costing around $550 million in lost output each year. “Free from” food labeling requirements and guidelines generally apply to products raised in a controlled environment,” said Jeremy Woodrow, Communications Director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. “Salmon in Alaska hatcheries may also receive antibiotics on occasion, but there have been no detectable levels of antibiotics found by the time the salmon are harvested in the ocean.” NSF International is now seeking companies to sign on to its Raised Without Antibiotics campaign, saying: “Without an independent protocol and certification process, customers have not been able to verify claims made by marketers – until now.” Gulf of Alaska groundfish are at the forefront for “innovation” grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Fisheries Innovation Fund. The Fund is a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Walton Family Foundation. The grants, totaling $650,000, aim to support projects that help sustain fishermen and coastal communities, promote safety, and support fishery conservation and management. While the Gulf is selected as a target area, the Innovation Fund will consider proposals in all US fisheries, both commercial and recreational. Successful projects should include approaches that promote full utilization of catches and minimize bycatch, develop markets, research and training, and “improve the quality, quantity and timeliness of fisheries-dependent data used for science, management and fishermen’s business purposes,” according to a NFWF statement. Alaska groups and communities have obtained several Innovation grants in recent years. They include Sitka’s Fisheries Trust Network that aims to acquire and keep catch quotas local, the Alaska Marine Conservation Council’s “Every Halibut Counts” project that promotes gentle release methods, and the Southeast Alaska Guides Organization for its sport sector catch share project. The Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association and the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association also have received grants to test electronic monitoring systems. Pre-proposals are due May 25 and invitations for full proposals will be sent on June 29. Full proposals are due on August 31 and the NFWF will announce award winners by November 17. Find more information and applications here. This material is protected by copyright. For information on reprinting, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
News Article | February 28, 2017
Shell Marine & Wildlife Habitat Program will help address conservation challenges across U.S. WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - February 28, 2017) - The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and Shell Oil Company (Shell) today announced the geographic expansion of their successful Shell Marine Habitat Program, a move that will broaden Shell's conservation scope beyond the Gulf Coast to better reflect the company's commitment to help protect and conserve the communities where it lives and operates. The expanded program, renamed the Shell Marine & Wildlife Habitat Program (SMWHP), now includes a wider focus with additional geographies and habitats that will be announced in the near future. In addition, SMWHP will consolidate several of Shell's key conservation initiatives under one platform. "Conservation is a vital part of our operations," said Bruce Culpepper, Shell's US Country Chair. "That is why we partner and engage with key organizations such as the NFWF to leverage their expertise and increase the impact of our conservation initiatives. Working together helps better preserve the environment we all enjoy." Since 1998, the NFWF and Shell partnership has funded 270 projects, supporting the protection, restoration and management of over 155,000 acres of habitat, as well as the improved monitoring and management of key species in coastal ecosystems. NFWF has leveraged Shell's funds over the years to generate more than $78.8 million for on-the-ground conservation. "We are pleased to build on our long history of success working with Shell to support vital conservation efforts along the Gulf Coast," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "This expanded focus will enable our partnership to address a wider range of conservation challenges across the nation, to the benefit of species, habitats and local communities by providing the resources necessary to take action." For additional information on funding opportunities available through the Partnership, please visit the Shell Marine & Wildlife Habitat Program site: http://www.nfwf.org/partnerships/corporate/Pages/shell.aspx 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. 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 4,500 organizations and committed more than $3.5 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.
News Article | February 16, 2017
Conservation partnership funds nine organizations to complete habitat, water, and innovative conservation projects HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwired - February 16, 2017) - The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and ConocoPhillips today announced $1.2 million in grant awards through the SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation program. These grants will support restoration and enhancement of important habitats and advance innovative water conservation technologies in 11 states. The grants, awarded to nine organizations for work in Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming, will support projects that collectively will restore more than 16,300 acres of grassland bird habitat, increase partner collaboration, establish decision support tools, increase critical late season stream flows, and develop innovative on-site tools for aquatic invasive species prevention. Grant recipients will match the $1.2 million in funding with $7 million in financial contributions or in-kind support for a total on-the-ground conservation impact of more than $8.3 million. Since 2005, NFWF and ConocoPhillips have invested more than $9.5 million in projects through the SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation program. Grantees have matched this funding with an additional $21 million for a total conservation impact of $30.5 million. As a result of these investments, more than 214,000 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat have been conserved or restored. "Identifying innovative species and habitat conservation solutions that help provide long-lasting ecological benefits is a primary goal of our SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation program," said John Sousa, manager of Communications, Brand and Community Relations at ConocoPhillips. "Through our SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation program and partnership with NFWF, we are proud to support this year's winners and their pursuit to advance water and biodiversity conservation efforts." This public-private partnership has continued to invest in proven techniques for improving and restoring critical fish and wildlife habitat to address long-standing conservation challenges. Additionally, the partnership is investing in promising, innovative solutions to difficult conservation problems. "The grants awarded this year through this innovative partnership between NFWF and ConocoPhillips will improve priority habitats for targeted fish and wildlife species in some of America's most important landscapes," said Eric Schwaab, vice president for NFWF's conservation programs. "These projects will support iconic species ranging from coho salmon in Alaska to whooping cranes in Texas and lesser prairie chickens in Kansas." For additional details on the individual grants, please click here. Learn more about the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation Program at: www.nfwf.org/spirit 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 4,500 organizations and committed more than $3.5 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org. ConocoPhillips is the world's largest independent E&P company based on production and proved reserves. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, ConocoPhillips had operations and activities in 17 countries, $90 billion of total assets, and approximately 13,300 employees as of Dec. 31, 2016. Production excluding Libya averaged 1,567 MBOED in 2016, and preliminary proved reserves were 6.4 billion BOE as of Dec. 31, 2016. For more information, go to www.conocophillips.com.
News Article | February 15, 2017
After more than a year of data collection, analysis and mapping, the University of Georgia River Basin Center and the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute recently published a comprehensive survey of aquatic animals in Southeastern watersheds. This first-of-a-kind study used information on where aquatic animals live gathered directly from field researchers, universities, museums and government agencies. The report’s creators hope it will serve as a call to action for protection and restoration, helping to chart future conservation efforts in the region. Among scientists, the Southeast is renowned as a hotspot for freshwater wildlife, but the life that teems beneath the surface of its rivers and streams — a veritable underwater rainforest — remains relatively unknown to the general public. After decades of being overlooked, conservationists think the time has come for the region to take its rightful place in the spotlight. “The Southeast’s rich aquatic communities are globally significant. There’s nothing else like our biodiversity anywhere else on the continent or anywhere else in the temperate world,” said Dr. Duncan Elkins, the study’s coordinator and a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Georgia River Basin Center. All southeastern states have incredible aquatic life, but the study spotlights areas with higher diversity and at greater risk of imperilment. Take one look at the report’s heat maps, and the Southeast’s ecological significance becomes impossible to ignore. The maps use colors to represent the variety of species in a given area — warmer colors indicating greater diversity — and are based on the distribution of almost 1,050 fish, crayfish and mussel species in almost 300 watersheds spanning 11 states. The vivid red-and-orange bullseye centered on Middle and Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Northern Alabama clearly shows why this region is so biologically significant. “The Southeast has an incredible number of species, and it's really important that we focus our attention on protecting places where we can get the most bang for our buck,” said Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute Director Dr. Anna George. By highlighting the region’s most diverse watersheds, the study will help to focus future scientific research and guide conservation groups to areas where intervention can have the greatest impact. “The need is great for us to act to protect our species,” George continued. “This project allows us to visualize, across the Southeast, where those places are that are so critically important for our water and wildlife.” Scientists “scored” each watershed based on three characteristics: the number of species it contained, the conservation status of those species and how widespread each species was. Areas containing a larger variety of species, many endangered or threatened species or species found in few or no other locations were ranked higher. According to the study, the 10 highest-priority watersheds are: The story of the Southeast’s freshwater ecology is one of both unrivaled diversity and rampant imperilment. Experts place the region’s plethora of aquatic wildlife on equal footing with that of species-rich tropical ecosystems. More than 1,400 species reside in waterways within a 500-mile radius of Chattanooga, Tenn., including about three-quarters (73.1 percent) of all native fish species in the United States. More than 90 percent of all American mussel and crayfish species live within that same area. More than a quarter of the species included in the study are found nowhere else in the world, yet 28 percent of Southeastern fish species are considered imperiled, more than doubling during the last 20 years fueled by intensive human development and a lack of financial support for regional conservation efforts. The publication of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute and River Basin Center study, which was created through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, comes at a crucial time for Southeastern aquatic ecosystems. Efforts to study and safeguard freshwater species in the region continue to struggle due to anemic funding and a lack of federally protected lands, especially compared to less-diverse regions, such as the Western United States. The study’s creators say they hope it will serve as a master plan to guide research and conservation work that will ensure the long-term survival of waterways that dramatically impact the human communities that rely on them. “Rivers and streams in the U.S. are the arteries that flow through our landscape, and they carry a measure of the health of the landscape with them,” George said. “Right now, those rivers are having heart attacks. “What we're doing is like visiting a doctor to learn how to take better care of the health of our rivers. We’ve identified some of the most important places to start a small change in our habits and how we take care of our waters. And over time, just like walking a mile turns into running a race, those small changes will add up to big differences for the health of the country’s rivers and streams.’”
News Article | February 15, 2017
Four-year commitment will help communities minimize the impacts of fire and extreme weather events through conservation and capacity building WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - February 13, 2017) - The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and Wells Fargo (WFC) today announced the launch of the Resilient Communities grant program. Through a commitment from Wells Fargo of $10 million over the next four years, this new program will improve natural resources and enhance local capacity to help communities prepare for expected impacts associated with water quantity and quality issues, forest conservation challenges, and sea-level rise. "We are pleased to be working with the experts at NFWF on this important, multi-year community resiliency program," said Mary Wenzel, Director of Environmental Affairs at Wells Fargo. "Focusing on resiliency through conservation and capacity building helps communities minimize climate- and extreme-weather-related impacts while simultaneously improving community well-being and prospects for economic development." By enhancing and restoring wetlands, resilient shorelines, urban tree canopies, natural forests and healthy upstream watersheds, communities across the country can improve their residents' quality of life, increase resilience, and support wildlife populations. The program places special emphasis on helping low- and moderate-income communities build capacity for resilience planning. "Wells Fargo's dedication to conservation and the long-term environmental health of local communities serves as the cornerstone of this public-private partnership designed to improve natural habitats and community resilience throughout the United States," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. Resilient Communities will accept applications and award five to 10 grants per year supporting the goals of the program. Proposals will be evaluated by their effectiveness in accomplishing regional goals and engaging low- and moderate-income communities. Applicants may submit a proposal through NFWF's online system by March 30; awards for this program will be announced in fall 2017. For the 2017 round of applications, Resilient Communities grants will emphasize the interconnectedness of natural systems and community well-being by: More information on the Resilient Communities program and partnership is available at www.nfwf.org/resilientcommunities. Wells Fargo & Company ( : WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.8 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through 8,800 locations, 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 36 countries to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 269,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 27 on Fortune's 2016 rankings of America's largest corporations. Wells Fargo's vision is to satisfy our customers' financial needs and help them succeed financially. Wells Fargo perspectives are also available at Wells Fargo Blogs and Wells Fargo Stories. 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 4,500 organizations and committed more than $3.5 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.