Department of the Interior

DOI News Header
Office of the Secretary
Contact: Hugh Vickery
April 12, 2005

Norton Commends National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Wal-Mart for Landmark Partnership to Protect Wildlife Habitat


(WASHINGTON) - Interior Secretary Gale Norton today commended the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wal-Mart for developing an innovative conservation partnership under which the company will contribute $35 million over the next 10 years to conserve and protect vital wildlife habitat across the country.

Under the "Acres for America" program, Wal-Mart pledges to conserve at least 138,000 acres of habitat, equal to the footprint of all its stores and facilities in the United States. However, the amount of habitat actually conserved will be much higher, as the Foundation already has reached an agreement to acquire more than 6,000 acres to be added to Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana and a permanent conservation easement on more than 312,000 acres of forests, rivers and wetlands in Maine.

"'Acres for America' demonstrates the power of cooperative conservation and partnership," Norton said at a ceremony at the National Geographic Society. "With its generous contribution, Wal-Mart is empowering the foundation to protect and restore important areas of wildlife habitat that otherwise might never be conserved. The company is setting a standard of corporate stewardship that I hope other companies will emulate."

The foundation, established by Congress in 1984 as a private non-profit conservation organization, will raise $35 million from other partners to match Wal-Mart's contribution, boosting the overall total to $70 million.

"We are very excited to partner with Wal-Mart to build a premier land stewardship model for the next generation," said NFWF Executive Director John Berry.

The foundation's board identified five initial projects to be funded under "Acres for America":

  • Acquisition of more than 6,000 acres of newly planted forests and wetlands that will be added to Catahoula NWR in Louisiana, expanding the refuge by 40 percent. The refuge is an important migration stop for waterfowl and other birds. Partners include the Conservation Fund and American Electric Power.

  • A conservation easement to protect 312,000 acres of forests and other habitat in Downeast Maine along the Canadian border. This will protect 60 lakes,1,500 miles of rivers and streams and 54,000 acres of wetlands from development pressures. Partners include The Conservation Fund, New England Forestry Foundation, the State of Maine, The Nature Conservancy and the Downeast Lakes Land Trust.

  • Acquisition of two ranches and their associated 850,000 acres of grazing permits on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Ranching and grazing will continue on the land under a new management plan that will address conservation issues. Other partners include The Conservation Fund and The Grand Canyon Trust.

  • Acquisition of 1,226 acres of habitat used by the endangered Indiana bat in Arkansas for winter hibernation. Partners include The Nature Conservancy's Arkansas chapter, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, and private landowners.

  • A 1,120-acre conservation easement on a ranch along Squaw Creek, a tributary of the Deschutes River in Oregon. The tract provides important upland and riparian habitat for mule deer and will help in the restoration of steelhead runs on the river. The Deschutes Basin Land Trust is the lead partner.




Selected News Releases