December 21, 2016

Media Statement by Larry Selzer, President & CEO, The Conservation Fund 

"The Conservation Fund applauds this innovative, partnership-driven approach by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and is honored to be the lead organization on three FY2017 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) awards that will advance longstanding and critical conservation goals for the Gulf of Mexico. 

Partnerships leverage better results and make conservation work for America, including at these projects that involve active agricultural and forest lands, support local jobs, and protect and restore natural resources. These projects will protect longleaf pine forests, Gulf connected streams, migratory bird habitat, and many other environmental and economic benefits.

We appreciate the leadership of U.S. Congress, who made the program possible in the Farm Bill of 2014 and subsequent appropriations. Leveraged by at least 1:1 non-federal contributions, these three RCPP awards will accelerate conservation solutions in the Gulf of Mexico and benefit current and future generations of Americans:

  • Coastal Headwaters Forest, Alabama, $8 million
  • Gulf of Mexico-Forest to Sea, Florida, $3 million
  • Vermilion Parish Working Lands, Wildlife and Water Partnership, Louisiana, $1.5 million"

The Conservation Fund Regional Quotes

ALABAMACoastal Headwaters Forest
Andrew Schock, Georgia and Alabama State Director with The Conservation Fund, and Chair-elect with the Longleaf Pine Council

"Only four percent of the original longleaf pine forests remain across the entire Southeast – mostly on public lands. The Coastal Headwaters Forest provides a solution, bringing partners and resources together to conserve and restore longleaf habitat on private lands, while also retaining local timber jobs that are important to the region. The opportunities in Alabama’s Gulf Coastal Plain are on a large landscape scale, critical to making an impact in reversing longleaf pine’s century-long decline.  We appreciate NRCS’ leadership and the Alabama U.S. congressional delegation's support for Coastal Headwaters Forest, and the U.S. Congress' establishment of the RCPP in the 2014 Farm Bill. We also appreciate the valuable efforts of our state and local partners."

FLORDIAGulf of Mexico Forest to Sea
Lauren Day, Florida Field Representative with The Conservation Fund

"Conserving the Big Bend region’s large forested landscapes and preventing the land’s division into smaller parcels is critical to protecting the Gulf’s environmental and economic resources. RCPP funds will greatly enhance and protect other conservation investments in the area, including at the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve, and other local protected areas. The project will accelerate the pace of conservation and serve as a model for further conservation and impact investing in the region and beyond. We appreciate the leadership of NRCS and the U.S. Congress, including the work of U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and U.S. Representatives Yoho and Graham. We also appreciate our state and local partners’ involvement this important project."

LOUISIANAVermilion Parish Working Lands, Wildlife and Water Partnership
Ray Herndon, Director of the Central Gulf & Lower Mississippi River Region with The Conservation Fund

"The Conservation Fund is excited to help USDA implement its first Agricultural Land Easement in Louisiana. The large-scale agricultural lands within the coastal zone of Louisiana have substantial natural resource values that are critical to the economy and environment both locally and across the broader geography of the Gulf of Mexico. The lands face threats of conversion, with real potential for further water quality degradation and loss of wildlife habitat.  The lands include a significant resource for migratory birds—with up to 70,000 waterfowl wintering on this targeted acreage annually.  The project will allow private agricultural landowners to continue operations while also permanently conserving the natural resource benefits near the Gulf.  We appreciate NRCS’ leadership and the leadership of U.S. Senators Vitter and Cassidy, and U.S. Representative Boustany on RCPP. We are also grateful to our state and local partners for their commitment to the permanent protection of Louisiana’s working agricultural lands."

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 7.8 million acres of land, including farmland and forestland. The Conservation Funds has successfully worked with agency partners, business partners, NGOs and others across the nation to implement conservation solutions, and stand ready to implement these three proposals, as well. 

Kelly Ingebritson | 703-797-2517 |