Alabama Power, in partnership with its parent company, Southern Company, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), today announced $5.5 million in grants to support 24 community-led projects that will help to restore and enhance the longleaf pine ecosystem. The grants provide funding to five projects in Alabama Power’s service territory.
“This ongoing initiative is helping bring back the historic and important longleaf forest, in Alabama and across the Southeast,” said Susan Comensky, Alabama Power’s vice president of Environmental Affairs. “Through this partnership, we’ve been able to leverage resources and accomplish far more than we could ever do alone.”
The 2017 grants include funding for the following projects that touch Alabama:
- The Alabama Wildlife Federation will provide technical assistance, outreach and information to private landowners, contractors and others to establish or enhance grassland habitat throughout the state. The project will boost awareness about the ecological value of native grasslands, foster collaboration among project partners and restore 3,000 acres of grassland habitat for northern bobwhite quail and other birds.
- The Forest Landowners Association will establish or enhance 2,000 acres of longleaf pine habitat in Alabama, Florida and Georgia and host “Forest Forums” and “Timber Talks” to bring together landowners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and other key stakeholders. The project will engage large working forest landowners and forest consultants in key longleaf pine priority areas to increase communication and identify specific actions for addressing barriers to longleaf restoration.
- The Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership will establish 333 acres of longleaf pine and improve an additional 55,350 acres of existing longleaf habitat in South Alabama and Northwest Florida through prescribed fire, private landowner outreach and technical assistance. The project will also relocate 140 gopher tortoises, a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act, to high-quality, managed lands and provide technical assistance and educational opportunities for private landowners, including a longleaf academy.
- The Longleaf Alliance Inc. and partners will relocate 60 endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers to properties designated as recovery sites by USFWS. The project will manage and improve 6,000 acres of longleaf pine forest in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, providing high-quality habitat for woodpecker nesting and foraging.
- Talladega-Mountain Longleaf Conservation Partnership will establish 447 acres of longleaf pine and improve 17,700 acres of existing longleaf habitat in Alabama and Georgia using prescribed fire on public and private lands, with support from a seasonal fire crew. The project includes developing a conservation plan to prioritize and guide future restoration, and conducting outreach to engage private landowners in restoring longleaf pine habitat.
The grants are part of NFWF’s Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a public/private partnership that includes Southern Company, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Department of Defense, USFWS, International Paper’s Forestland Stewards Initiative and Altria.
The Longleaf Stewardship Fund builds on the success of the Longleaf Legacy program, a partnership between Southern Company and NFWF. For eight years, Longleaf Legacy invested more than $8.7 million in projects to restore more than 87,000 acres of longleaf pine forest and the native species that rely on the habitat. Another 20,000 acres were restored through the company’s closely aligned Power of Flight program with NFWF.
Read more about the preservation of the longleaf pine habitat in our piece on red-cockaded woodpeckers: For The Birds.