Wal-Mart contribution to launch Colorado River restoration initiative

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation announced today a $250,000 donation from Wal-Mart Foundation to provide catalytic funding for a new watershed restoration initiative. Through this Water for Texas initiative, Wal-Mart hopes to help off-set its own water footprint in Texas, help restore native habitats resulting in healthier, more abundant wildlife and fish populations and help provide more and better water for the citizens of Texas...

AUSTIN, TX, Nov. 18, 2008 -- The Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation announced today a $250,000 donation from Wal-Mart Foundation to provide catalytic funding for a new watershed restoration initiative. Through this Water for Texas initiative, Wal-Mart hopes to help offset its own water footprint in Texas, help restore native habitats resulting in healthier, more abundant wildlife and fish populations and help provide more and better water for the citizens of Texas.

"By itself, this grant from Wal-Mart Foundation is significant," said Will Beecherl, Chairman of the TPW Foundation's Board of Directors. "Not only is this the first time private funding has made such a watershed initiative possible in Texas, it is also a statement and commitment by a major corporation to help protect the unique natural resources of Texas. It will enable the leveraging of other contributions, recruit many partners and multiply the conservation impact to reach heretofore unattainable goals. With the help of other stakeholders, this will easily be a million-dollar plus project every year."

It is hoped this program will be ongoing and will eventually help restore several key watersheds, but it will begin in 2009 on the Colorado River. To accomplish restoration throughout the basin, the TPW Foundation and Wal-Mart Foundation will work with multiple partners, including the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), the Upper Colorado River Authority (UCRA), the Colorado River Municipal Water District (CRMWD) and the Texas Organization of Wildlife Management Associations (TOWMA).

"There are more Walmart and Sam's Club stores in Texas than in any other state," said John Murphy, Walmart Vice President for Operations. "These facilities use and sell lots of water, and to help off-set that consumption, we wanted to participate in a sustainable water conservation program. Taking this initial step with Texas Parks & Wildlife and other partners seems natural."

Projects to help accomplish sustainability will be dynamic and targeted to specifically address different sections of the basin. For example:
• A portion of the funding will be used to provide additional support for the Creekside Conservation Program for projects on private land throughout the watershed area of the LCRA statutory district;
• UCRA will use some of the funds to support O.C. Fisher Lake Aquatic Research & Education Center, the focus of which is to enhance water quality and quantity while promoting public awareness and participation in water conservation;
• In partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service and Texas AgriLIFE, CRWMD will accomplish ecosystem restoration by expanding the distribution of the "salt cedar beetle" for the bio-control of salt cedar along the Beals Creek tributary of the Colorado River;
• TOWMA would support landowner outreach through wildlife management associations regarding watershed and rangelands management to improve water quality and quantity. This outreach could include field days, providing technical assistance, conferences and workshops designed to influence riparian area protection.

This watershed restoration program will help with the education of current and future landowners and water consumers, teaching them how to use less and preserve more water. It will be a long process, but the Wal-Mart Water for Texas initiative is the essential first step in the right direction.

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