September 19, 2016

ARLINGTON, Va.—The Conservation Fund is celebrating a restoration legacy at Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Louisiana, a location where public and private partners have planted more than one million trees. The initiative is strengthened by the Fund’s recent announcement that its carbon and climate project at Upper Ouachita NWR was verified to the standards of the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCB Standards) at the Gold Level. This is the Fund’s fifth gold level verification to the CCB Standards, more than any other group in the nation. Verification ensures that the projects are meeting the original project objectives, including trapping carbon, providing habitat for wildlife and creating positive benefits for nearby communities.

In 2010, The Conservation Fund protected more than 3,900 acres at the Mollicy Farm area of the Upper Ouachita NWR on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The more than 53,000-acre refuge protects habitat for tens of thousands of migratory birds, which visit every year to rest, forage and breed. It also provides public recreation opportunities, enhances air and water quality and reduces flooding and erosion along the Ouachita River. Protecting this property was a priority for the refuge for many years.

Since then, the Fund has used donations from climate leaders—individuals, foundations and companies committed to addressing climate change—to restore more than 2,600 acres of bottomland forest at the Refuge. As this forest matures, it is projected to trap an estimated 830,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The restoration is good news for species like the Louisiana black bear which was recently removed from the Federal Lists of Threatened and Endangered Species due to recovery and restoration activities like these.

The Fund’s five CCB Standard verified gold projects—located at Grand Cote, Lake Ophelia, Marias des Cygnes, Mingo, Red River and Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuges—will, over their lifetime, trap an estimated 1.8 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to taking approximately 380,000 cars off the road for one year.

“We’re celebrating public-private partnerships committed to creating positive impact together,” said The Conservation Fund’s VP of Business Partnerships, Jena Thompson Meredith. “We’re proud to help bring together some of the best biologists and wildlife stewards in the nation with more than 20 of the nation’s top businesses committed to sustainability to help our National Wildlife Refuges. This is great news for wildlife, and demonstrates a model for engaging customers and inspiring employees rooted in real, measurable and lasting change for forests, wildlife and communities.”

The CCB Standards were designed to promote land management activities that mitigate global climate change, benefit the local communities and protect biodiversity. This means that beyond just fighting climate change, these reforestation projects benefit people and wildlife too, including hundreds of species of migratory birds, bats and butterflies. While the Fund manages the design and implementation of these restoration projects, the long-term ownership, management and stewardship is led by the environmental experts and biologists employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These refuges provide regular reports from on-the-ground activity.

"The conservation benefits made possible by our partnership with The Conservation Fund and its many partners are extraordinarily important to our conservation goals in this part of the Lower Mississippi Valley," said Cindy Dohner, the Service's Southeast Regional Director. "Our partnership covers more than a decade and is a key part of our broader conservation work to restore a healthier, more resilient ecosystem."

Companies and their customers, as well as individuals across the country, donate to The Conservation Fund to offset greenhouse gas emissions from a variety of activities. Those donations have resulted in the restoration of more than 32,000 acres and the planting of 10 million trees. Restoration activities at all five of the Fund’s CCBA verified projects were made possible with donations from individuals, foundations, and more than 20 leading companies.

More than one million U-Haul customers have opted to support parks, forests and wild places like Upper Ouachita NWR at checkout.

“U-Haul is extremely proud of our customers and of our partnership with The Conservation Fund over the past decade, said Michelle Sullivan, Manager of Corporate Sustainability at U-Haul. “We are thankful our customers continue to support these valuable conservation projects, demonstrating values that align with the founding sustainability principles at U-Haul. Together with U-Haul customers, the Service and the Fund, we are creating lasting, positive impacts in the communities where we live, work and serve.”

C&S Wholesale Grocers, the largest wholesale grocery supply company in the U.S., donates to plant trees to offset employee commutes and its energy use at key facilities.

“Our company has partnered with The Conservation Fund for approaching ten years to protect and restore America’s forests,” said Gina S. Goff, Senior Director of Community Involvement with C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. “For five of those years, our focus together was on Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge.  We’re proud of the positive impact we’ve helped to make at such a special place and applaud the Fund and the Service for their important work there.”

The Fund’s restoration projects were verified by SCS Global Services under its SCS Greenhouse Gas Verification Program.  

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 to protect more than 7.8 million acres of land since 1985. 

Restoration activities at Upper Ouachita NWR were made possible by: Afterglow Cosmetics, Associated Students of San Diego State University, Bella Figura Letterpress Invitations, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Conde Nast Publications, Dell, Emkay Incorporated, Gaiam, Indianapolis Colts, Land Rover Portland, L'Oreal USA, MaCher, Philadelphia Eagles, Momentum Group, Munchery, New Jersey Natural Gas, Premiere TV, Sabre Holdings, Seat Planners Incorporated, The North Face, Travelocity and U-Haul International.

Media Contacts:
Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |
Jena Thompson Meredith | The Conservation Fund | 512-423-5806 |
Maury Bedford | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 318-726-4222 |
Tom MacKenzie | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,404-679-7291 |