Lake Ophelia And Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuges Go For Green, Gold

January 26, 2011

Lake Ophelia

Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Sean Gardner.

The Conservation Fund Announces Fourth Gold Level Project Under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards

Marksville, LA — The Conservation Fund, in partnership with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service), announced today that its forest-based carbon sequestration project in central Louisiana received gold level validation, the highest level available, under Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards, Second Edition. The Conservation Fund has more gold level CCB Standards validations than any other group in the country.

Supported by donations from the Fund’s voluntary carbon offset program, Go Zero®, the group planted 245,000 oak, pecan and cypress trees across 814 acres at Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge, near Marksville. According to planting and carbon monitoring partner, TerraCarbon, LLC, as the forests mature, they are expected to trap an estimated 240,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“For more than a decade, the Service and The Conservation Fund have set the highest standard for the restoration of bottomland forests in the Lower Mississippi Valley,” said the Service’s southeast regional director Cindy Dohner. “We are restoring these lands to support healthy fish and wildlife populations, while creatively addressing the transformational conservation challenge of our time: accelerating climate change. We are gratified that our combined efforts have again been recognized as the gold standard for biological carbon sequestration.”

Black bear cub

Photo by Tony Campbell/iStockphoto.com

The newly restored forests provide vital habitat for the federally threatened Louisiana black bear, as well as numerous bird species. Migratory waterfowl, songbirds and shorebirds all use forested, moist soil and open-water wetland habitats for nesting and foraging. New forests will also improve water quality for the globally endangered pallid sturgeon. Portions of the restored areas on both Refuges will be open to the public for wildlife-dependent recreational uses.

The Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance developed voluntary standards to help design and identify land management activities that simultaneously minimize climate change, support sustainable development and conserve biodiversity.

“The Conservation Fund and the Service are pioneering the development of high quality, multiple benefit forest carbon projects in the United States by restoring native forests that create vital habitats to safeguard endangered species,” said Joanna Durbin, director of the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance. “We welcome the news that this project qualifies for the stringent Gold Level criteria of the Second Edition of the CCB Standards for exceptional biodiversity by conserving the habitat of the endangered pallid sturgeon, a freshwater giant found only in the Missouri and Mississippi river basins, as well as many other species like the Louisiana black bear.”

Go Zero works with companies and individuals to help reduce and then offset the carbon footprint of everyday activities, such as the CO2 emissions resulting from an in-town or cross-country move with U-Haul, a flight purchased from Travelocity, a package shipped from Gaiam or the electricity it takes to power a Dell notebook for three years. Companies from C&S Wholesale Grocers to The North Face use Go Zero to offset portions of their energy use and staff travel.

mallards taking flightCustomer donations help plant native trees in protected parks and wildlife refuges like Lake Ophelia and Grand Cote that will capture and store carbon over time, while also creating forest habitats that are critical to birds, fish, bears and other wildlife. To date, donations to Go Zero have resulted in the restoration of 3,800 acres and the planting of 1.2 million native seedlings that will trap an estimated one million tons of CO2 over the life of the forests. Much of this effort has been focused on restoring lands within the Lower Mississippi River Valley—an area that has lost more than 20 million acres of forestland over the last 100 years.

“Bottomland hardwood forests in the Lower Mississippi River Valley are some of the most productive forests in the U.S., capable of storing more than 300 metric tons of carbon dioxide per acre at maturity,” said David Shoch, vice president of forestry and technical services at TerraCarbon. “Growing forests like these lock up greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and at the same time restore an imperiled ecosystem.”

“It is wonderful that The Conservation Fund has earned this important recognition,” said Gina Goff, director of community involvement at C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. “The men and women of our company are proud to be part of The Conservation Fund’s important work and to address environmental challenges through support to Go Zero.”

Thanks to donations from U-Haul and its customers, more than 208,000 seedlings have been planted on Service lands including more than 100 acres at Lake Ophelia and Grand Cote.

“U-Haul and our customers are working to make a real difference in protecting the environment and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions,” said John “J.T.” Taylor, president of U-Haul International, Inc. “We congratulate the Fund on yet another CCB gold validation. During our visit to Grand Cote and Lake Ophelia this fall, our team witnessed first-hand the tremendous on-the-ground results this program has achieved with the Service. The Conservation Fund team should be proud of the work they are achieving in our communities.”

Both wildlife refuges also benefit from customer donations to Go Zero via Travelocity’s Travel for Good program.

“We’re very proud of our partnership with The Conservation Fund and all the outstanding work they’re doing right here in the U.S.,” said Travelocity’s Travel for Good manager, Alison Presley. “The forests they’ve planted at Lake Ophelia and Grand Cote are vital to local wildlife and will be enjoyed by generations to come.”

Customer donations from Dell’s Plant a Tree program, a combined effort between The Conservation Fund and Carbonfund.org, have made an impact at Lake Ophelia and Grand Cote.

“Dell has helped our customers plant and sustainably manage more than 250,000 trees since the inception of the Plant a Tree Program and is well on its way to plant half a million trees in the next couple years,” said Mark Newton, Executive Director of sustainability at Dell. “Working closely with The Conservation Fund has helped us provide a meaningful way for people to account for the CO2 emissions related to powering their computers and together we plan to keep that momentum going.”

“Go Zero donors are providing critical, private capital that will help address two of the most extraordinary environmental challenges of our time, climate change and habitat loss,” said The Conservation Fund’s Go Zero director, Jena Meredith. “The CCB gold level validation ensures these donations deliver real, measurable results to help address climate change and restore important wildlife habitat on behalf of the National Wildlife Refuge System and the American people.”

The Conservation Fund’s Grand Cote and Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge Restoration Initiative was recently validated by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS).

 


Heroes of Go Zero include:

Hundreds of thousands of dedicated individuals, Accenture Supply Chain Academy, Americas Lodging Investment Summit, Bella Figura Letterpress Invitations, Carfax, Inc., City of Austin, Conde Nast Publications, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Dell Computer Corporation, Delta Air Lines, Inc., e-Blue Horizons, LLC, Ernest Maier Block, Florida Center for Environmental Studies, Gaiam, Inc., Indianapolis Colts NFL, Land Rover Portland, Lee County Board of County Commissioners, L’Oreal USA, Inc., McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, LLC, Michigan International Speedway, Molinaro Koger, NBC Universal, New Jersey Natural Gas, Organic, Inc., Philadelphia Eagles, Premiere TV, Inc., Reverb Inc., SEAT Planners Incorporated, Sesco Lighting, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc., The North Face, Training Resources Group LLC, Travelocity, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U-Haul International, Inc., University of Delaware, Vans, Way Basics, William McDonough & Partners, P.L.C., World Class Charters, Inc.

About US Fish & Wildlife Service:

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov.


About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.