Acres for America program to safeguard wildlife habitats in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City
Walmart's Acres for America program is donating $500,000 to help protect, conserve and restore fragile urban ecosystems in Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. This is the first time the program has helped reestablish critical wildlife habitats in urban areas.
"We are excited to have an opportunity to help revitalize priority wildlife habitats in urban areas and bring the Acres for America program to life for our associates and customers," said Jennifer May-Brust, Walmart vice president of realty. "Walmart is serving more and more urban customers, and this is a natural extension of what we've been doing in rural and suburban communities for years."
"The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is pleased to partner with Walmart to restore and enhance natural resources in urban settings, which are so vital for wildlife and people," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the Foundation. "These projects will benefit habitats and species across the country and involve many volunteers, including Walmart associates, in caring for their communities."
Each urban conservation project will receive a $100,000 grant from the Acres for America program.
Anacostia Watershed Restoration (Washington, D.C.): This project will install a bioretention facility, or rain garden, to treat polluted storm water runoff entering Nash Run, a tributary of the Anacostia River. The Anacostia River is among the most polluted in the country, and this project is a priority for the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Partnership, which works in Washington, D.C. and Maryland to restore the river for wildlife habitat and as a cultural and recreational resource in the nation's capital.
"The Anacostia is a beautiful river that can't be enjoyed fully by D.C. residents because of serious pollution problems," said Dana Minerva, director of the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Partnership. "The $100,000 grant from Acres for America will make a significant impact towards our organization's goal of dramatically reducing pollution in the river. The project will show how we can use green, beautiful approaches across the watershed to clean up the Anacostia River."
Hegewisch Marsh Restoration (Chicago): Hegewisch Marsh includes four ecosystems: wet savannah, wet prairie, forested wetland, and marsh. It is a nesting site for the endangered common moorhen and home to 12 state-endangered bird species. The project will restore 30 acres of marshland, provide training for 10 new Greencorps Chicago Calumet crew members, and provide hands-on experience in ecological management to 30 high school participants in the "Calumet is My Backyard" program.
"The Marsh really is an essential part of our vision for Calumet," said Aaron Durnbaugh, Deputy Commissioner of Natural Resources and Water Quality for the Chicago Department of Environment. "It's one of the few places in the city where one can feel part of nature while connected to the vibrant industries and neighborhoods in Hegewisch."
Bolsa Chica Enhancement Project (Los Angeles): This project will support restoration and habitat enhancement efforts at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve for the endangered southern tarplant, an annual herb native to California. The $100,000 grant will help reduce invasive non-native grasses, increase southern tarplant and native coastal grass populations, and fund long-term monitoring of the 118-acre Bolsa Chica mesa.
"Protecting Bolsa Chica is vital to the survival of endangered plants and wildlife," said Flossie Horgan, Executive Director of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust, which will oversee the project with support from the surrounding community. "With Walmart's help, the community will be better able to enhance this critically important ecological reserve for the benefit of future generations."
Jamaica Bay Salt Marsh Restoration (New York): A 26-square-mile urban ecosystem off the Brooklyn and Queens shoreline, Jamaica Bay is the largest tidal wetlands complex in New York City, part of the National Park Service Gateway National Recreation Area and a key stopover point along the Atlantic Flyway for migratory birds. This project includes rebuilding two historic marsh islands with clean dredged materials from the New York/New Jersey Harbor. Planting marsh grasses will stabilize the two islands and provide habitat to special-status bird species including the American Oystercatcher.
"Over the last century, we have seen the Jamaica Bay Salt Marsh Islands reduced from 16,000 acres to less than 1,000. The city has already been working hand in hand with numerous federal, state and environmental partners to restore these natural resources, and we are thrilled that Walmart has joined in this effort to reclaim one of New York City's hidden gems," said New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway.
The New York Botanical Garden Lower Portage Trail (New York): Restoring the Lower Portage Trail will help improve the ecological health of the Bronx River and create better recreational amenities for garden visitors and community residents. The proposed improvements will restore the shoreline and improve nearby woodlands, and the removal of hard pavement will reduce pollution into the Bronx River. These improvements will serve the boaters who pass through the garden on the river and the school groups who enjoy the ecology of the river.
Walmart, in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), created Acres for America, a 10-year, $35 million commitment to purchase and preserve one acre of wildlife habitat in the United States for every acre of land developed by Walmart. The program has helped conserve more than 630,000 acres in its first five years, surpassing its original 10-year goal of 138,000 acres.
States with lands protected and restored under the Acres for America program include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming and Washington, D.C. When complete, the Acres for America program is expected to be one of the largest public-private partnerships in the U.S. and the first time a company has directly tied its land-use footprint to land conservation.
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