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Five Star Program Awards Nine Wetland Restoration Grants

July 26, 2010

ATLANTA, July 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Southern Company (NYSE: SO), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Association of Counties and the Wildlife Habitat Council today announced that nine new wetland, riparian and coastal conservation grants have been awarded in the Southeast through the Five Star Restoration Program.

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This year, Southern Company provided $238,303 in grants and, combined with partner matching funds, a total of more than $1,458,000 to restore more than 21 wetland acres and 4,019 feet of riparian buffer across nine projects in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Cumulatively, since 2006, Southern Company has contributed $1,058,513 through 50 grants across its service area, which will result in an on-the-ground conservation impact of $3.58 million to restore more than 10,000 acres of wetlands and nearly 50,000 feet of riparian buffer in the Southeast.

“EPA’s Five Star Restoration Grants support community-based projects, including environmental education and training in order to make a significant contribution to the environmental landscape,” said Stan Meiburg, EPA acting regional administrator. “This program is an excellent opportunity for citizens to not only understand the importance of healthy aquatic ecosystems, but to become better stewards of their environment.”

“Five Star is possible because of a unique collaboration with our public, private and corporate funders,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director of NFWF. “Because of their generous contributions, these community-based habitat restoration projects not only provide immediate benefits to fish and wildlife but also help to build a local environmental stewardship ethic.”

The Five Star Restoration Program is a national initiative providing financial and technical support to wetland, riparian and coastal habitat restoration projects. It brings together diverse partnerships of citizen groups, corporations, students, landowners, youth conservations corps and local, state and federal government agencies to foster local natural resource stewardship through education, outreach and training activities. Beginning in 2006, Southern Company pledged $1.92 million over eight years to fund community-based, wetland and streamside restoration across its four-state service territory. Additionally, Southern Company and its four operating companies – Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power – collaborate with the program partners to select the projects each year and works with many of the grantees to provide additional training and capacity-building support.

“As the Southern region lead corporate sponsor of Five Star Restoration, Southern Company is in the fifth year of our eight-year commitment of matching funds for projects in our region and we’re proud of the progress that’s been made,” said Chris Hobson, chief environmental officer for Southern Company. “These grassroots efforts make a significant contribution to our environmental landscape and to the understanding of the importance of healthy wetlands, streams and coastal environments in our communities.”

The following organizations have been awarded Five Star grants in 2010:

In Alabama:

  • The Freshwater Land Trust will remove approximately 1.5 acres of invasive Chinese Privet from Tapawingo Springs, a former thriving wetland and bottomland ecosystem, and re-plant the area with approximately 1,500 native bottomland species and flowering plants. The goal is to create a haven not only for the Watercress Darter but also for songbirds and other wildlife. Partners include the Whole Foods Team Leadership Program, Society to Advance Resources at Turkey Creek (START)/Pinson Boy Scouts of America, Freshwater Land Trust Land Steward, Southern Environmental Center; Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, as well as Samford University and Birmingham Southern College Biology Departments
  • The Freshwater Land Trust will construct and maintain a trail system along the Village Creek head waters that will include invasive plant removal, wetland enhancement, and bioswale construction. Invasive plants, such as privet, will be removed and a pervious walkway will be installed. Educational signage will be added, and the Southern Environmental Center, Jefferson County Health Department and the Freshwater Land Trust will offer public tours. This project will be implemented in partnership with the Freshwater Land Trust, Jefferson County Department of Health, the Southern Environmental Center, Birmingham-Southern College and the Champions for Village Creek Greenway.

In Georgia:

  • Keep Rome Floyd Beautiful – City of Rome, Georgia will restore 80 linear feet of eroding stream bank, provide hands-on education promoting wildlife preservation and stream buffer protection, and establish a permanent water monitoring site. Partners on the project include The ECO River Education Center, the City of Rome, Georgia Boys and Girl Scouts of America, University of Georgia’s Floyd County Cooperative Extension, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, Darlington School, Evans Construction Company, Georgia Power, Coosa River Basin Initiative, The Nature Conservancy and the Citizens of Georgia Power Company-Rome Chapter.
  • DeKalb County will work with project partners to clear trash and debris from a headwater stream. Stream banks will be replanted to improve water quality and habitat. Environmental education will be offered to seven local schools. Project partners include DeKalb County, Museum School of Avondale Estates, White Oak Hills Neighborhood Association, Healthy Belvedere and Avondale High School.
  • Trees Atlanta will restore and stabilize an eroded 400 feet of Clear Creek along the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum by planting native riparian species. This will include the treatment and removal of invasive exotic plant species. Project partners include Atlanta Audubon Society, BeltLine Partnership, Atlanta Public Schools, Ansley Mall, Ansley Square, Park Pride, Georgia Power, Ansley Park Neighborhood, Morningside Neighborhood Midtown Neighborhood Association, Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and HGOR Landscape Architects.
  • Piedmont Park Conservancy will restore a 3.4-acre wetland, including unearthing six streams that comprise headwaters of Clear Creek. The project creates a rare wetland habitat in the center of Atlanta. The project will also result in the addition of amenities including paths and boardwalks allowing for public visitation of the wetlands and the creation of a field study site including interpretive signage for passive learning as well as environmental education curriculum to serve students and community groups. Project partners include Aquascape Environmental, Arborguard Tree Specialists, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Atlanta Audubon Society, BEST Academy, Brasfield & Gorrie, City of Atlanta, Department of Parks and Recreation and Department of Watershed Management, Georgia Tech, Grady High School; Kimley-Horn and Associates and the Silverman Construction Program Management.
  • Ducks Unlimited will enhance a 7-acre wetland at the Arrowhead Wildlife Management Area in Floyd County that will be managed for waterfowl while providing long-term outdoor education. Volunteers from several local groups and organizations will benefit from personal interaction via designated community work days that will incorporate hands-on conservation and restoration activities. Project partners include J. Supply Company, Vellano Bros., Inc., Kerry Brown, Hugh Glidewell, Sunbelt Turf Farms, Neely Raper Lumber, Ducks Unlimited, Inc. and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

In Mississippi:

  • Mississippi State University will partner to enhance 7.5 acres of partially filled and culverted wetlands of Bayou Auguste in the urban neighborhood of East Biloxi, Mississippi. Residents and public agencies have identified restoring urban bayous as important for flood protection and ecological health. The partnership will coordinate debris and invasive species removal, marsh grass propagation and planting and stream bank reshaping to improve the Bayou’s water quality and retention capacity, habitat function, biodiversity and visual appeal. Mississippi State will work with the following organizations to implement this project: the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, Biloxi Housing Authority, Biloxi Public Schools, and the City of Biloxi.
  • Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation will implement the Cumbest Bluff Restoration Project, a 200-acre tract of hardwoods, bogs and cypress swamp located just east of the lower Pascagoula River in Jackson County, Mississippi. This gifted property will allow the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation through its partnership alliances to restore and monitor the area’s unique ecological balance and allow the educational community complete access for study. Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation; Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Mississippi State University; Mississippi Power; Deviney Construction; and D&C Limited Investments, LLC, will work with the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation to carry out this project.

With 4.4 million customers and more than 42,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast. A leading U.S. producer of electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and a growing competitive generation company, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices below the national average. Southern Company is consistently listed among the top U.S. electric service providers in customer satisfaction by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Visit our Web site at www.southerncompany.com.

SOURCE Southern Company


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