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Alabama watersheds to benefit from recent environmental grants

Improvements in two Alabama watersheds to protect water quality and native species are among projects receiving support through recent grants awarded by the nonprofit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

The grants were awarded through the Southeast Aquatics Fund, a partnership between NFWF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Alabama Power’s parent company, Southern Company.

“The Southeast Aquatics Fund is providing key support to help protect and restore the unique aquatic biodiversity found only in the Southeast,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Species and their habitats supported by these grants are bellwethers for the long-term health of the waters and streams that define this diverse landscape.”

The Alabama initiative will be led by The Nature Conservancy in Alabama with support from partners. It involves landowner outreach, field support, technical assistance and project-planning related to stream restoration projects within the Locust Fork and Big Canoe Creek watersheds. The long-term goals of the project are to reduce runoff of sediment and pollutants into the waterways, helping improve water quality and protect native plants and animals.

Important species reside within the Locust Fork and Big Canoe Creek watersheds, including the federally listed Black Warrior waterdogflattened musk turtle and trispot darter.

The Alabama grant from NFWF builds on prior funding to support water quality and species protection in the two watersheds in northeast Alabama. Alabama Power has been involved in multiple projects, with public and private partners, that complement the efforts.

“We’re excited about this latest grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help continue the work being done by so many great partners to protect and improve these important watersheds,” said Susan Comensky, Alabama Power vice president for Environmental Affairs.

In all, NFWF announced four grants through the Southeast Aquatics Fund designed to help restore and enhance aquatic habitats in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. The grants will generate $648,000 in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of nearly $1.3 million, according to NFWF.

Other aquatic species in the Southeast that will benefit from the grants include the bridled darter, blue shinerAlabama rainbow and Coosa creekshell.

“Our region has immense aquatic biodiversity, including many species found nowhere else,” said USDA Forest Service Southern Region Forester Ken Arney. “The projects supported by these grants will improve habitat and protect water quality in critical watersheds, benefiting the people living in nearby communities and the aquatic flora and fauna inhabiting these waters.”

“Supporting the Southeast Aquatics Fund is one way Southern Company does our part to restore critical watersheds and the aquatic species that make their homes in these waters,” said Jeff Burleson, Southern Company senior vice president of environmental and system planning. “This conservation work is good for water, species and communities.”

See the complete list of 2021 grants made through the Southeast Aquatics Fund here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)