Wetland restoration grants awarded through Five Star Program

Southern Company, the U.S. EPA, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Association of Counties and Wildlife Habitat Council announced that 10 new wetland, riparian and coastal conservation grants have been awarded in the Southeast through the Five Star Restoration Program. This year, Southern Company provided $246,000 in grants and, combined with partner matching funds, a total of nearly $532,000 will benefit projects in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi...

ATLANTA, GA, July 23, 2008 -- Southern Company, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Association of Counties and Wildlife Habitat Council announced that 10 new wetland, riparian and coastal conservation grants have been awarded in the Southeast through the Five Star Restoration Program.

This year, Southern Company provided $246,000 in grants and, combined with partner matching funds, a total of nearly $532,000 will benefit projects in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. Since 2006, Southern Company has contributed $621,000 through 33 grants, resulting in an on-the-ground conservation impact of $1.89 million.

"EPA's Five Star Restoration Grant Program will help promote conservation and environmental stewardship in these communities," said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Regional Administrator. "Community-based projects, such as these, improve environmental awareness among local residents and create lasting relationships for protecting and sustaining wetlands, streams and coasts."

The Five Star Restoration Program is a national initiative providing financial and technical support to wetland, riparian and coastal habitat restoration projects. It brings together citizen groups, corporations, students, landowners, youth conservations corps, and local, state and federal government agencies to build diverse partnerships and foster local natural resource stewardship through education, outreach and training activities. In 2006, Southern Company pledged $1.2 million over five years to fund community-based, wetland and streamside restoration across its four-state service territory. Additionally, Southern Company collaborates with the program partners to select the projects each year and distribute funds to grantees.

"As Five Star Restoration's lead corporate sponsor for the Southern region, Southern Company has committed five years of matching funds for projects in our region," said Chris Hobson, senior vice president of research and environmental affairs for Southern Company. "Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, providing habitat for reptiles, fish, waterfowl, mammals, plants and more. Grassroots efforts through this program will make a significant contribution to our environmental landscape and underscore the importance of healthy wetlands environments in the communities we serve."

The goal of EPA's Wetlands program is to motivate and inspire the Nation to value, protect and restore the ecological integrity of its wetlands and aquatic ecosystems. The Wetlands Program accomplishes this through co-leadership of the Clean Water Act's wetlands regulatory program, and by fostering effective wetlands management in strategic partnerships with states, tribes, local governments and other key partners. EPA's vision is for America to have abundant and healthy wetlands and aquatic ecosystems that sustain biologically diverse plant and animal life, improve water quality, protect communities from flooding and provide recreational opportunities.

With nearly 4.4 million customers and more than 42,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company is a leading U.S. producer of electricity.

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