Grants support habitat restoration in Alabama

Grants support habitat restoration in Alabama
The Little River Watershed Restoration Project supports DeSoto State Park. (Alabama State Parks)

Two recently awarded grants will help support habitat protection and restoration along two important Alabama rivers.

The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program will provide conservation grants to the South Alabama Land Trust (SALT) and the Little River Waterkeeper to support their efforts to protect and enhance portions of the Fish River in Baldwin County and the Little River watershed in northeast Alabama.

The Five Star program is a collaborative effort of multiple partners, including Alabama Power and its parent Southern Company, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency. The program focuses its resources on river, stream and coastal habitat restoration.

In Baldwin County, the grant will support SALT, formerly the Weeks Bay Foundation, in efforts to maintain and protect the 60-acre Alta Fish River Nature Preserve. The grant will provide resources for invasive plant removal, prescribed burning and native planting, if needed, as well as trail-building and educational field trips. Located in southwest Baldwin County, the Fish River drains into Weeks Bay, which flows into Mobile Bay.

Partners with SALT on the Fish River project include the Student Conservation Association GulfCorps, Baldwin County Sewer Service, Mobile County Wildlife and Conservation Association, the University of West Florida’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Nature Connect.

On the northeast corner of the state, Little River Waterkeeper will use its grant to support elements of the Little River Watershed Restoration Project – a long-term plan to protect the river and its natural environs, which are facing increasing pressure from development and tourism.

Among the activities the grant will support are riverbank restoration and planting of native grasses and other species along power line rights-of-way.

Much of the Little River in Alabama flows atop Lookout Mountain in DeKalb and Cherokee counties. The unique river system and surrounding habitat is home to rare and endangered plants and animals. It is also home to the Little River Canyon National Preserve and DeSoto State Park, which draw hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

Decades ago, Alabama Power played an important role in helping protect land that eventually became part of Little River Canyon National Preserve.

Alabama Power supports SALT and its annual Alabama Coastal Birdfest, scheduled for Oct. 6-9. The event includes birdwatching opportunities at sites along Alabama’s Gulf coast as well as workshops and a Bird and Conservation Expo on the campus of Coastal Alabama Community College. Since 2004, Birdfest has raised more than $100,000 to preserve and protect coastal birding and wildlife habitat in the region.

“Alabama Power is proud to continue to play a role, with many partners, in the Five Star program,” said Susan Comensky, Alabama Power vice president for Environmental Affairs. “Over many years, Five Star has helped protect and improve important habitats and water quality in both urban and rural communities in our state, as well as along Alabama’s coast. These efforts are helping preserve rare, native plants and animals while also enhancing recreation and providing opportunities for children and adults to learn about the beauty and biological diversity of this amazing place we call home.”

Learn more about Alabama Power’s ongoing efforts to protect natural resources here.

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