December 21, 2017

The Conservation Fund Receives Three USDA Awards That Support Critical Water Quality, Wildlife Habitat, And Working Lands In The Gulf Of Mexico And Great Lakes Regions  

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

“The Conservation Fund once again commends the commitment of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to demonstrate and promote the value and effectiveness of voluntary, private lands conservation through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

“We are honored to be the lead organization on two FY2018 RCPP awards that will advance longstanding and critical conservation goals for the Gulf of Mexico and to serve as a key implementation partner on one RCPP award for the Ann Arbor Greenbelt program in Michigan that supports Lake Erie.  

“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 of Mexico connected streams, Great Lakes watershed, urban farmland, endangered and threatened species, and many other environmental and economic benefits.

“We appreciate the leadership of the U.S. Congress, who made this instrumental program possible in the Farm Bill of 2014 and subsequent appropriations, and we hope this critical partnership program will continue in the next Farm Bill. Leveraged by at least 1:1 non-federal contributions, these four RCPP awards will accelerate local, on the ground conservation solutions and benefit current and future generations of Americans:

  • Coastal Headwaters Forest, Alabama and Florida, $7 million
  • Gulf of Mexico-Forest to Sea, Florida, $5 million
  • Ann Arbor Greenbelt, Michigan, $1.04 million”


ALABAMA and FLORIDACoastal Headwaters Forest 
Andrew Schock, Georgia and Alabama State Director with The Conservation Fund, and Chair of the Longleaf Pine Council 

“Conservation solutions with willing private landowners at the Gulf Coastal Plain in Alabama and Florida are critical to making an impact in reversing longleaf pine’s century-long decline and protecting the water quality of the Gulf of Mexico. Historically at 90 million acres in the Southeast U.S., longleaf pine habitat dwindled to three million acres. Today, because of the America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative there are 4.7 million acres. This project is another important step towards reaching the goal of eight million acres. The Coastal Headwaters Forest conservation easement connects resources and partners, including institutional timberland owners, like Resource Management Service, LLC, to conserve and restore longleaf habitat on private lands, protect endangered and threatened species, like the gopher tortoise, while also retaining local timber jobs that are important to the region. We appreciate the leadership of NRCS and the U.S. Congress, including the work of Alabama U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Luther Strange, and U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (AL-1), and Florida U.S Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz (FL-1). This project is about partnerships, and we praise the valuable efforts of our other federal, state and local partners.”
FLORIDAGulf of Mexico Forest to Sea 
Lauren Day, Florida Field Representative with The Conservation Fund

The Gulf of Mexico-Forest to Sea project will protect critical freshwater flows to the Gulf of Mexico via a working forest conservation easement; helping to safeguard both the environment and economy of Florida’s Big Bend and prevent fragmentation of the region’s vast forests. This partnership will protect one of the least developed coastlines in the continental U.S. and some of the Gulf’s most productive habitat.  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 protected areas. Working with landowner, the Lyme Timber Company, it will 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 Florida U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and U.S. Representative Neal Dunn (FL-2). We also appreciate and praise our other federal, state, local, and private partners whose involvement is critical to this important project.”

MICHIGAN—Ann Arbor Green Belt: Saving Michigan’s Farms
Ruth Thornton, Ann Arbor Greenbelt Program Manager with The Conservation Fund

“Located near the struggling Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) and southeast Michigan’s rapidly growing Ann Arbor/Detroit metropolitan areas, the Ann Arbor Greenbelt: Saving Michigan Farms project provides an opportunity to protect agricultural lands key to food security and the local economies, preserve the agricultural heritage and quality of life of residents, and combat the NRCS resource concerns of water quality degradation, soil quality degradation and inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife. We appreciate the leadership of NRCS and the U.S. Congress, including the work of Michigan U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, and U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Tim Walberg (MI-7). We also praise our local partners’ involvement in this important project, including Washtenaw County, Legacy Land Conservancy, Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy, and Ann Arbor, Augusta, and Scio Townships.”"

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 nearly 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 four proposals, as well.

Learn more about the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Regional Conservation Partnership Program:

Kelly Ingebritson | 703-797-2517 |