Nearly $1 million in Gulf Power-supported grants to benefit Longleaf Pine forests across Northwest Florida

Originally Published by Southern Company.

Gulf Power in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and other groups announced its 2018 round of Longleaf Stewardship Fund grants that will benefit habitat restoration and species recovery across Northwest Florida.


The lion’s share of the $1 million — $920,000 — has been awarded to Longleaf Alliancefor work on Gulf Coast Ecosystem Plain Partnership lands. GCPEP is a collaboration of 15 public and private landowners with over 1.3 million acres of land that stretches from the Florida-Alabama border on the west, east to the Choctawhatchee River and includes the Conecuh Forest that adjoins the Blackwater River State Forest on the northern border of Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. The partners take a landscape approach to conserve and restore the dwindling longleaf pine ecosystem.

“This is the most money we’ve received at one time, and it’s a huge step for ecosystem restoration and rare species recovery in the landscape,” said Vernon Compton, the Alliance’s GCPEP director. “It will allow our Ecosystem Support Team to work across the landscape on multiple projects from helping with prescribed burns to invasive species control, and to do more work on species recovery. The Ecosystem Support Team is trained for the specialized and labor-intensive work rare species recovery requires.”

The grant dollars will be used to:

  • Restore and maintain 112,958 acres of longleaf pine habitat within the western panhandle of Florida and southern Alabama.
  • Prioritize and accelerate, in this same area, recovery of declining and at-risk species, including bobwhite quail, gopher tortoise and reticulated flatwood salamander.
  • Support local environmental conservation jobs.

There are only 29 known reticulated flatwood salamander breeding wetlands that have been recently occupied in the Southeast U.S. and 27 of them are on the GCPEP land in the Gulf Power service area. This new grant will allow the Ecosystem Support Team to do more work with partners to help save these rare salamanders.

“These salamanders are all part of the chain in nature,” Compton said. “If you have good conditions for salamanders then you have good conditions for many other rare or declining species too.”

The GCPEP funding will also provide more money for a project launched last year to rescue gopher tortoises from construction sites in Central and South Florida and relocate them to the Eglin Air Force Base conservation lands. The project’s goal is aimed at bolstering the populations to prevent the tortoises from being listed in 2023 under the federal Endangered Species Act, a development that could impact some of Eglin’s training and testing operations.

Thanks to these new grant dollars, a University of West Florida research team including students will be participating in a new project — the National Bobwhite Quail Initiative Focal Area will be developed to support bobwhite quail habitat restoration and recovery in the Conecuh Forest. Compton explained that the students will go into the forest and learn how to recognize the bird’s calls to conduct rare bird and quail research and monitoring, to determine if GCPEP habitat and species restoration efforts are successful.

The fire-adapted longleaf pine ecosystem once encompassed more than 90 million acres across the Southeast, but it has been reduced to only about 5 percent of its historical range. It supports immense biodiversity and important game species such as the bobwhite quail, wild turkey and white-tailed deer.

“Gulf Power is proud to be able to support investments in projects that will help restore this rich ecosystem, enhance wildlife habitat and create recreation opportunities while engaging students and public and private landowners in important conservation work,” Kimberly Blair, Gulf Power spokesperson. “We have a long history of environmental stewardship and these grants will further strengthen the restoration efforts of the longleaf pine forests in Northwest Florida and the native wildlife it supports.”

Other Longleaf Stewardship Fund dollars such as the one awarded to Tallahassee-based Tall Timbers will be at work in the Gulf Power service area with conservation assistance programs involving prescribed burns and an outreach program to enhance future longleaf restoration.

“The Longleaf Stewardship Fund exemplifies what can be achieved for conservation when the public and private sector work collaboratively on a landscape scale,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Through investing in critical restoration activities and educating landowners to become stronger stewards of their lands, the Longleaf Stewardship Fund is helping secure the future of one of the world’s most biodiverse landscapes, and the species and communities that rely on it.”

A complete list of the 2018 grants made through the Longleaf Stewardship Fund is available here.

Latest News

aging and infected human cells

Racism Can Trigger Premature Aging; Trump Administration Loses Battle With Women Detained for Speaking Spanish; and More

Two new studies highlight damaging impact of racism on cells and the body Racism not only increases stress levels in the body, but also causes the body to age faster according to the results of two alarming new studies. In the first, conducted at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the…

thanksgiving, truth

The Truth You May Not Know About Thanksgiving

On Thursday, Nov. 26, many Native Americans and their allies across the country will observe the 51st National Day of Mourning. While most Americans will sit down to Thanksgiving dinners — albeit (hopefully) smaller ones than in years past due to COVID-19 — this counter-observance is designed as an ongoing…

President-elect Joe Biden

President-Elect Joe Biden’s Potential New Cabinet Filled With Historic Firsts; New Report Details the Top 10 Careers Most Impacted by COVID-19; and More

President-elect Biden continues his push for an administration that “looks like America.” With more than a month to go until he is even sworn in as the 46th president of the United States and his transition to the office finally underway after weeks of delay, President-elect Joe Biden is already…

The Michigan Moonshot Partners with Toyota and Cisco to Expand Wi-Fi Access in Detroit, Inkster, Flint and Washtenaw County, Michigan

Originally published on pressroom.toyota.com. Residents of Detroit, Inkster, Flint and Washtenaw County will soon benefit from expanded free Wi-Fi access at more than 50 community locations across S.E. Michigan.  The effort, part of Merit Network’s Michigan Moonshot initiative, was supported by contributions from the Toyota USA Foundation and Cisco. Washtenaw Intermediate School District and…

Cox Communications Joins John Deere Supply Base

Originally published on Cox.com Cox Communications’ commercial IoT product division, Cox2M, was recently selected by John Deere to implement smart asset-tracking technology at its supply facility in Augusta, Georgia. “It’s a privilege to partner with a market leader like John Deere that’s constantly investing in new technology to bring world-class products…