Walmart and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Announce Renewal of Acres for America Program
The Fishing Wire
BENTONVILLE, Ark.– Walmart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced a 10-year, $35 million renewal of the Acres for America program, one of the most effective public-private partnerships in the history of U.S. conservation efforts. In its first 10 years, the program has protected more than 1 million acres through 61 projects in 33 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. With this renewal, Walmart and NFWF are committed to doubling this success in the next decade.
Acres for America began in 2005, when Walmart made its first commitment of $35 million to purchase and preserve one acre of wildlife habitat in the United States for every acre of land developed by the company — approximately 100,000 acres today. The program has far surpassed that 10-year goal, with more than 1 million acres protected — an area comparable in size to Grand Canyon National Park. As of today, the Acres for America program has conserved more than 10 acres of vital habitat for every acre of land Walmart has developed since its founding in 1962.
"The need for effective public-private partnerships for conservation has never been greater," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. "I applaud NFWF and Walmart for their continued commitment through the successful Acres for America program to preserve and protect some of our nation's most important lands."
Through conservation easements and land acquisitions in areas connecting already-protected lands such as national parks and state wildlife areas, Acres for America has leveraged conservation investments to benefit wildlife habitats and migration corridors over a much larger area — more than 10 million acres. And, through its competitive grant process, the program has leveraged Walmart's initial $35 million investment to generate more than $352 million in matching contributions, for a total conservation impact of approximately $387 million.
"We began this journey in 2005 and we are astounded by what it has become over the past ten years," said John Clarke, vice president of store planning for Walmart. "None of this would have been possible without the expertise and leadership of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, along with national, regional and local organizations that have participated in this initiative across the country. We're excited by what we've already accomplished and look forward to what the next ten years hold."
"Acres for America has achieved tremendous success by bringing together business leaders, landowners, public agencies and conservationists to protect our nation's natural resources at a grand scale," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "The beauty of Acres for America is that everybody wins. Critical habitats that were once threatened are now protected, forever. The public gains access to some of America's most pristine natural areas. And ranchers, farmers and foresters can continue to work their lands."
Acres for America has conserved lands of national significance, protected critical fish and wildlife habitat, and benefited people and local economies across the nation.
In the shadow of Mount Shasta in California, coho and Chinook salmon are returning to spawn after a 4,136-acre ranch was protected and 6 miles of streams were restored.
In Wyoming, conservation easements on two ranches along the Green River preserved 19,000 acres of open space and provided access to 5 miles of the river for fishing. The project benefits sage grouse, mule deer, pronghorn, long-billed curlews, sandhill cranes, and cutthroat trout.
On Matagorda Bay in Texas, the acquisition of Powderhorn Ranch conserved 17,351 acres of tidal bay shoreline, emergent wetlands, and wet prairies supporting waterfowl, raptors, terns, skimmers and wading birds.
At Yellow River Ravines in Florida, an 11,313-acre acquisition connects existing conservation lands to form a protected landscape of more than 834,000 acres of longleaf pine and bottomland hardwood forests.
In the Downeast Lakes region of eastern Maine, a conservation easement prevented forest fragmentation across 312,000 acres of wildlife habitat. This easement, at the time the second-largest of its kind in U.S. history, also ensured perpetual public access for hunting, hiking, fishing, birding and boating.
On the shores of Lake Michigan, the 1,667-acre Arcadia Dunes property connects more than 6,000 acres of existing protected land, supporting many threatened species and providing new opportunities for public recreation.
"The Acres for America program is a one-of-a-kind partnership that brings together one of our nation's greatest companies with some of our most iconic landscapes that need to be conserved. This historic conservation effort has protected 312,000 acres of magnificent forestland in Downeast, Maine, 186,000 acres of undeveloped forest habitat in the Grand Rapids area of Minnesota, and 17,000 acres of critical habitat for the endangered whooping crane along the Texas coast," said Larry Selzer, president, The Conservation Fund. "None of these would have been possible without the incredible resources provided through the Acres for America program, and future generations will thank the leaders of Walmart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for their vision and leadership."