MIKE GILES: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation benefits black bear, waterfowl and freshwater fish in 6 states

Photo by Mike Giles

Grants awarded through the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Restoration Fund will support healthy populations of species such as the Louisiana black bear, white-tailed deer and numerous forest birds, small game and freshwater fish.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced more than $2.6 million in grants this month to restore, enhance and protect the sensitive forest, wetland and aquatic habitats in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. This is the third slate of grants awarded through this program, and the grants will generate $2.3 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $4.9 million.

The eight grants were awarded through the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Restoration Fund, a partnership between NFWF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with private funding from International Paper’s Forestland Stewards Partnership and the Walton Family Foundation.

“These projects will help restore forests and improve hydrology within the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, the nation’s largest floodplain,” Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF, said in a statement. “Today’s grants will support healthy populations of species like the Louisiana black bear, as well as numerous forest birds and freshwater fish, while at the same time improving water quality and reducing the impacts of flooding on local communities.”

Consisting of more than 24 million acres of forested wetlands with fertile alluvial soils, the Mississippi Alluvial Valley is rich with biological diversity. In addition, the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley provides an important migratory stopover and wintering habitat for more than 40 percent of North America's waterfowl.

It is also home to more than 100 fish species and 107 breeding land birds. However, widespread loss of forests, combined with flood control and drainage efforts, has led to critical habitat loss for wildlife, damaged water quality, and reduced floodwater retention. The LMAV Fund is an effort to restore these habitats for the benefit of wildlife and the working lands that people depend on.

“From Louisiana black bears to loggerhead shrikes to wood ducks, our collaboration is helping ensure populations of recovered species remain strong and at-risk species get the protections they need. Together we are protecting the area’s unique biodiversity for generations to come,” NFWF Service Director Aurelia Skipwith said in a statement.

The projects supported by the eight grants will protect bottomland hardwood habitat under conservation easements, as well as restore the forest habitat and hydrology, and improve aquatic habitat connectivity. These projects will also provide water quality and quantity benefits, as well as sequester carbon. Finally, they will also support the monitoring and protection of local species such as black bear, waterfowl and forest dwelling birds, such as the Swainson’s warbler, prothonotary warbler and swallow-tailed kite.

Call Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or email mikegiles18@comast.net.

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