Wal-Mart Announces Half Million Dollar Acres for America Grant to The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy

Arcadia, Mich. (May 1, 2006) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. today announced a $500,000 Acres for America signature grant to The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy to complete the acquisition of two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, featuring spectacular sand dunes, a host of wildlife, and a high density of Pitcher’s thistle, a globally unique plant to the Great Lakes.

“The Great Lakes are a vital national asset both economically and environmentally,” said Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.  “This capstone grant from Acres for America will ensure that this unique natural heritage will be enjoyed for generations to come.”

The site, known as Arcadia Dunes, lies between the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Manistee National forest, and the Arcadia Dunes is contiguous to one mile of this protected shoreline.  With this acquisition, more than 30 percent of the shoreline between Arcadia and Sleeping Bear Dunes will be protected. 

“At Wal-Mart, we know that being an efficient business and being a good steward of the environment are goals that can work together,” said David Carmon, Regional General Manager, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.  “We understand the importance of protecting the environment and we’re proud to partner with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help preserve valuable wildlife habitat here in Michigan and across the country.”  

This pristine shoreline was ranked among the top five of unprotected privately owned coastal sites by the Michigan Dune Alliance, a coalition consisting of state and federal agencies, private organizations, land trusts, and watershed councils from the Mackinac Bridge to the Indiana State line along the Lake Michigan shore.  The shoreline serves as a resting area for bald eagles, recognized as threatened in the state and is part of the migratory route for Monarch butterflies. The site also supports the federally listed endangered Peregrine Falcon, and the Caspian tern and merlin, also listed as threatened by the state.  This truly unique site also boasts the Cooper’s hawk, grasshopper sparrow and northern harrier, recognized as species of concern.  The back-capped vireo sighted on the Arcadia Bluffs remains the only sighting of the species in Michigan.

“The Lake Michigan dunes are the most spectacular element of an extraordinary natural resource—the Great Lakes,” said Donn Waage, Central Region Director, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.  “It is vitally important to the web of life in the Great Lakes to preserve this last major parcel of sand dune and coastal forest, home to migratory birds and rare plants.”

The project is part of a larger Lake Michigan coastal protection campaign totaling more than 6,000 acres, including 1,667 acres of sand dune and coastal forest, and 4,333 acres of working conservation lands that provide a buffer to pressure from lakeshore development. The buffer area includes 1,000 acres of forests, 500 acres of protected grasslands and 2,833 acres of agricultural lands which will be placed under easement.  The public will enjoy recreational access to these lands including the development of a 15-mile trail system.

 The 6,000 acre campaign attracted $35.4 million in public support, foundation grants, corporate contributions and individual gifts.  The funding for the campaign supports the acquisition of these lands, development of the management plan, trail system and a stewardship endowment. Wal-Mart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation join the C.S. Mott Foundation, Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, The Carls Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and The Herbert H. Grace A. Dow Foundation as lead funders supporting the conservation of Acadia Dunes.

 “It is absolutely wonderful that more than 5,000 individuals and foundations believed this property was so important that they put their money where their hearts are.  Now it is preserved for us to enjoy today and for future generations,” said Betsy Dole, Board Chair of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.

Founded in 2005, Acres for America is a partnership program between Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to conserve critical wildlife habitats for future generations.  Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has committed $35 million over 10 years to permanently conserve at least one acre of priority wildlife habitat for every developed acre of Wal-Mart Stores’ current footprint, as well as the company’s future development throughout the 10 year commitment, making this one of the largest public-private partnerships ever and the first time a company has tied its footprint to land conservation. 

In 2005, the Acres for America program funded its first five projects in Maine, Louisiana, Arkansas, Arizona and Oregon.  With the recent announcement of the conservation of 10,000 acres of forestland near Mt. Shasta in California and these 2-miles of shoreline in Michigan, these seven signature projects funded to date represent a commitment of $10.3 million from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., which leveraged an additional $38 million.  With additional projects planned for 2006, the Acres for America program has permanently conserved approximately 360,000 acres, helping consolidate conservation landscape totaling nearly 4 million acres and producing a conservation investment totaling $50 million. 

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will consider recommendations for projects that would generate the greatest impact to important fish, wildlife or plant resources.  To apply, or for more information, log onto www.nfwf.org or www.walmartfacts.com.

About National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by Congress in 1984 and dedicated to the conservation of fish, wildlife and plants, and the habitat on which they depend. The Foundation creates partnerships between the public and private sectors to strategically invest in conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. The Foundation awarded over 7,000 grants to more than 2,600 organizations in the United States and abroad and has leveraged – with its partners – more than $300 million in federal funds since its establishment, for a total of more than $1 billion in conservation. The Foundation is recognized by Charity Navigator with a 3-star rating for efficiency and effectiveness. Ninety-two cents of every dollar contributed to the Foundation is directed to on-the-ground efforts, with 5 cents supporting management and administration of the Foundation’s multi-million dollar grants program and 3 cents funding partnership development and fundraising. www.walmartfacts.com.

About National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by Congress in 1984 and dedicated to the conservation of fish, wildlife and plants, and the habitat on which they depend. The Foundation creates partnerships between the public and private sectors to strategically invest in conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. The Foundation awarded over 7,000 grants to more than 2,600 organizations in the United States and abroad and has leveraged – with its partners – more than $300 million in federal funds since its establishment, for a total of more than $1 billion in conservation. The Foundation is recognized by Charity Navigator with a 3-star rating for efficiency and effectiveness. Ninety-two cents of every dollar contributed to the Foundation is directed to on-the-ground efforts, with 5 cents supporting management and administration of the Foundation’s multi-million dollar grants program and 3 cents funding partnership development and fundraising. www.nfwf.org

About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and SAM’S CLUB locations in the United States. The company operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom. The company’s securities are listed on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges under the symbol WMT. More information about Wal-Mart can be found by visiting www.walmartfacts.com. Online merchandise sales are available at www.walmart.com

About The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy
The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy protects significant scenic, natural and farm lands in a five-county area including Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Manistee counties in northwest lower Michigan.  Since their founding in 1991, the Regional Conservancy has protected more than 24,000 acres of land and 55 miles of shoreline in the region.  See their website:  www.gtrlc.org

For more information on Acres for America, check out the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation at: http://www.nfwf.org/acresforamerica