FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 8, 1997

Diana M. Hawkins or

Vicki M. Boatwright

HABITAT RESTORATION FUNDS EARMARKED FOR PROJECTS

IN ARKANSAS, FLORIDA, AND GEORGIA

Three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conservation partners in Arkansas, Florida and Georgia are to receive $50,000 in grants recently awarded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in Washington, D.C. According to the Service's Deputy Southeast Regional Director, Dale Hall, the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance, an Arkansas grassroots conservation group was awarded $25,000 to help restore a 997,000-acre watershed, the St. Johns Water Management District will receive $5,000 to aid in an annual river cleanup project in Florida and Georgia, and The Nature Conservancy of Georgia will receive $20,000 to begin work on protecting the riparian habitat corridor along the Altamaha River.

The grants were awarded in connection with the Foundation's "Restore Our Southern Rivers Initiative," a program aimed at restoring regional fish and wildlife habitat in partnership with nine federal and state agencies and a number of private nonprofit conservation organizations. The Foundation's $50,000 in funding will be matched by contributions from local communities, conservation organizations, states and private sources to implement habitat restoration projects costing approximately $100,000.

Hall credited the Foundation and the Service's numerous partners, who are supplying both funding and in-kind contributions to complete these habitat restoration projects, with significantly aiding the Service in carrying out its wildlife and habitat conservation activities. "We are gratified that people care enough about our Nation's natural resources that they are willing to play an active role in Service activities," Hall said.

The goal of the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance's habitat restoration project in Arkansas is to correct past environmental mistakes that have resulted in poor water quality and a continuing decline in the area's availability of natural wildlife habitat. These problems have adversely affected recreational fishing in the area, a pastime that was once enjoyed by many. Members of the Alliance will plant vegetation to conserve at least 10 miles of riverbank and install sediment traps to help improve water quality. These habitat restoration efforts are expected to also benefit the nearby Overflow National Wildlife Refuge.

Residents of more than 70 communities, 17 counties and 2 states will be involved in the March 1998 river cleanup in the St. Johns Water Management District in Florida and the St. Mary's River in Georgia. This project will be carried out in cooperation with the Service's South Atlantic Fisheries Coordination Office in Vero Beach, Florida.

The Nature Conservancy of Georgia's Altamaha Private Landowner Initiative project was developed in cooperation with the Service's Brunswick Field Office and the Service's Altamaha Ecosystem Team. This project focuses on encouraging public involvement in protecting the riparian habitat corridor along this river, developing educational materials for this watershed, and implementing on-the-ground demonstration projects in cooperation with private landowners.

According to Hall, while the competition for these grants was keen, the projects selected generally demonstrate a willingness on the part of local communities to get involved in solving serious environmental problems.

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Release #R97-65


1997 News Releases

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