FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 14, 2001
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Southeast Regional director today presented a conservation award to American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) for the company’s 10,257-acre reforestation project near Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Louisiana.
Sam D. Hamilton, Regional Director of the Southeast Region, presented one of the first annual Southeast Regional Director’s Conservation Awards to Diane Fitzgerald, AEP vice president – environmental affairs, during a meeting of the Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem Team at the Ducks Unlimited national headquarters here. The award is “in recognition of outstanding contributions to conservation” by the company.
Hamilton praised AEP for being an exceptional conservation partner. “AEP not only is restoring wildlife habitat but has acquired land for that purpose and is making great strides in its innovative carbon sequestration efforts,” Hamilton said. “We applaud AEP for setting a high standard for conservation in the lower Mississippi valley.”
Fitzgerald cited two primary reasons for AEP’s involvement in the Catahoula reforestation project. “First of all, as public policy, we advocate the planting of trees and preservation of forests for carbon sequestration or storage to help offset releases of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas,” she said. “Secondly, the restoration of hardwoods in this location benefits wildlife as it restores the natural habitat and maintains biodiversity.”
More than 5 million tons of carbon dioxide are estimated to be captured and converted to biomass over the 70-year life of the Catahoula reforestation project. Some 3 million trees – various oaks, bald cypress and green ash – will be planted by early 2002. AEP’s 10,257-acre tract will be managed by USFWS as part of the Catahoula NWR. USFWS acquired an adjoining 8,115 acres in a transaction arranged by The Conservation Fund, a non-profit organization based in Arlington, Va., that seeks to protect land and water resources in partnership with corporations, public agencies, other organizations, foundations and individuals.
The existing 6,535-acre Catahoula NWR was established in 1958 as a wintering area for migratory waterfowl. The refuge adjoins the state-owned 26,000-acre Catahoula Lake that has international importance for providing habitat to more than 400,000 waterfowl during peak times of the year. The lake is also home to thousands of wading birds and shore birds.
Representatives of the Catahoula NWR, along with many other refuges, participate in proceedings of the Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem Team. Other members of the team include representatives of all USFWS divisions (refuges, fisheries, law enforcement and ecological services) and partners from state agencies, non-governmental organizations and private entities. The team meets twice a year to assess the biological needs of fish and wildlife in the lower Mississippi watershed and to set goals and work on projects.
The USFWS Southeast Region, headquartered in Atlanta, includes 10 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The states are Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. USFWS is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American public. In addition to managing the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which includes 535 refuges and thousands of wetland management districts, USFWS operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations.
American Electric Power is a multinational energy company based in Columbus, Ohio. AEP owns and operates more than 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity, making it America’s largest generator of electricity. The company is also a leading wholesale energy marketer and trader, ranking second in the U.S. in electricity volume with a growing presence in natural gas. AEP provides retail electricity to more than 7 million customers worldwide and has holdings in the U.S. and select international markets. Wholly owned subsidiaries are involved in power engineering and construction services, energy management and telecommunications.
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