Boise, Idaho (May 22, 2006) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. today announced a $500,000 Acres for America capstone grant to Trout Unlimited that will help protect more than 28,000 acres of working forestlands and important wildlife and fish habitat near the growing communities of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington.
"It’s a partnership that works for the people and the economy of Idaho," said Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho. "I commend Potlatch Corporation, the State of Idaho, The Trust for Public Land, Trout Unlimited, and all the other participants in this important effort, which will keep many thousands of timberland acres in production while ensuring continued access to some of our state’s wonderful natural treasures. In addition, I am appreciative of the charitable investment that Wal-Mart has made through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Acres for America program."
The site, located in Shoshone County, lies within the St. Joe River and Coeur d’Alene/Spokane River basin in the panhandle of northern Idaho. It supports the only remaining spawning populations of threatened bull trout in the basin, and has been described as the best cutthroat trout fishery on the west side of the Rocky Mountains.
"In my work representing the people and resources of this special area, I have been gratified by the federal support we’ve gotten for this win-win approach," said U.S. Congressman Butch Otter. "And, wearing a very different hat, as co-chair of the private fundraising campaign for the St. Joe basin, I know firsthand just how important Wal-Mart’s philanthropy means to keeping jobs in these woods, to sportsmen’s access, and to the future of this spectacular landscape."
"This capstone grant protects nationally significant forest habitat on a scale that will sustain healthy fish and wildlife populations for at least the next 100 years," said Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “We are proud to join the federal, state and private funding partners who have come together to sustain the unique economic, recreational and wildlife values of the St. Joe Basin.” he added.
"The St. Joe River is one of the few world-class cutthroat trout fisheries remaining in the American West, and an extremely important river for threatened bull trout," said Charles Gauvin, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. "We applaud Potlatch, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wal-Mart for their commitment to conservation. Thanks to their efforts, much of the St. Joe will be protected from development, forever."
Trout Unlimited joined The Trust for Public Land in its four-year campaign to conserve the forests of the St. Joe River basin. The river’s upper reaches flow from the St. Joe National Forest and are federally protected as a Wild and Scenic River. The lower river weaves through privately owned working forest and ranchland into Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Spokane River, which provides drinking water to 400,000 people. The area also provides vital habitat for many big game species such as deer, elk, moose, black bear, and mountain lions, and supports recovering populations of animals such as gray wolf, lynx, and bald eagles.
“The Trust for Public Land is proud to have played a part in saving these vital lands in the St. Joe River Basin,” said Roger Hoesterey, Vice President, The Trust for Public Land. “Thanks to the collaboration and support of so many, this landscape can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
The timberlands of the St. Joe Basin have been an economic anchor for generations of North Idahoans. The Potlatch Corporation is one of the largest private landowners in the state as well as one of Idaho’s largest employers. The protected forests will remain in timber production under Potlatch’s ownership. The forests are certified under the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative standards and will continue to be managed to protect habitat and sensitive ecological features.
"Wal-Mart, through their Acres for America program, stepped up at a critical time to help make this 28,000 acre phase a reality. Along with their partners National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Trout Unlimited, they have helped secure a treasure for the people of Idaho," said Mark Benson, Director of Public Affairs, Potlatch Corporation.
The conservation easement also protects public access to the St. Joe, a popular destination for visitors from throughout the Northwest and beyond. Fishermen, hunters, hikers, cross-country skiers, and campers all know and love the area. Furthermore, these protected lands connect to 100,000 acres of public lands including the St. Joe National Forest and BLM lands near Coeur d’Alene, preserving spectacular views and securing habitat at a scale that will sustain healthy fish and wildlife populations for generations to come.
“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 Tory Nichols, Market 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 Idaho and across the country.”
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.
Since 2005, the Acres for America program has funded projects in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan and Oregon. Together with this grant in Idaho, the eight projects funded represent a commitment of $10.8 million from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. This commitment was leveraged with over $39 million in additional funding from project partners producing a conservation investment totaling $50 million. To date, the Acres for America program has permanently conserved 360,000 acres, helping connect conservation landscapes totaling more than 4.6 million acres.
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 has 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 founding, for a total of more than $1 billion in funding for 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 NYSE Arca 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 Trout Unlimited
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization. Today, TU boasts over 160,000 members nationwide. See their website: www.tu.org
About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national, nonprofit, land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Visit their website: www.tpl.org.
About Potlatch Corporation
Potlatch is a real estate investment trust (REIT) with 1.5 million acres of forestland in Arkansas, Idaho, Minnesota and Oregon. Through a taxable REIT subsidiary, the company also operates 13 manufacturing facilities that produce lumber and panel products and bleached pulp products, including paperboard and tissue products. Visit their website: www.potlatchcorp.com