November 14, 2019

Volkswagen of America and The Conservation Fund Collaborate to Increase the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tenn. — Volkswagen of America and The Conservation Fund announced an initiative to help protect and restore forestland in the United States, starting with a project located in eastern Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest. Volkswagen plans to provide a $1.25 million donation to The Conservation Fund, who will use a portion of the funds to buy, protect and donate hundreds of acres of land to the U.S. Forest Service. The remainder of the donation will go toward providing community grants in Eastern Tennessee.

“We are excited about our partnership with Volkswagen and the opportunity to advance their commitment to corporate leadership around sustainability,” said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “Volkswagen is taking real, measurable steps forward to help protect the environment, embrace sustainable business practices and support the communities in which they work.”

A large portion of Volkswagen’s contribution to The Conservation Fund is expected to increase the Cherokee National Forest (CNF) by about 1,500 acres, enhancing statewide efforts to help protect wildlife habitat and cultural resources, improve water quality, and provide additional recreation access and environmental education. The goal is for the additional lands, which consist of three separate tracts near the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant, to be open to the public for outdoor recreation use and to help protect the habitat for the black bear and the Indiana bat. This project is part of an ongoing effort by The Conservation Fund to protect American forestland from development and fragmentation.

“Our work with The Conservation Fund will help strengthen the environment and help us give back to a community where more than 3,800 of our colleagues live,” said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. “This collaboration in our own backyard underscores our ‘Drive Bigger’ goal of pursuing ideas bigger than ourselves and then taking action. We feel a responsibility to show how a major automaker can credibly contribute to the greater good.”

The land will be added to the 650,000-acre National Forest, which stretches the length of eastern Tennessee’s border, with lands north and south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Forest is home to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, several whitewater rivers, and 12 designated wildernesses and is managed cooperatively with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency as a Wildlife Management Area. The Conservation Fund is negotiating with private landowners to acquire properties that will be held until they can be transferred to the USDA Forest Service for long-term stewardship in 2020 and 2021.

In addition to supporting land conservation, The Conservation Fund shares Volkswagen’s commitment to the natural resources and the communities of Tennessee. Together, they are announcing a community grant program of $200,000 to support work towards environmental and community goals. The Conservation Fund, in collaboration with Volkswagen will solicit grant requests of up to $50,000 each from qualified nonprofits, schools and public agencies working in eastern Tennessee to help improve water quality, increase access to outdoor recreation, and advance environmental education. More information, grant requirements, and application are available at the link below. Application deadline is February 14, 2020.

For more information on the collaboration, visit

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than eight million acres of land.

About Volkswagen
Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America and a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, with headquarters in Herndon, Virginia. Volkswagen’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world’s largest producers of passenger cars and Europe’s largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Arteon, Atlas, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, e-Golf, Golf, Golf Alltrack, Golf GTI, Golf R, Golf SportWagen, Jetta, Passat, and Tiguan vehicles through more than 600 independent U.S. dealers. Visit Volkswagen online at or to learn more.

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |
Mike Tolbert | Volkswagen of America | 571-471-1484 |