Image: mjb84 via flickr
One more item to add to the list of reasons it's getting harder to hate Walmart: its Acres for America program is working to preserve hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat.Walmart's latest grant for the program will preserve 218,000 acres of wildlife habitat in four states, as well as support what it calls a sustainable forestry operation. The Acres for America program, according to Walmart, marks the first time a company has worked to tie its land-use footprint directly to land conservation.
The company says that during the first five years of the program, which was formed in conjunction with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to buy and preserve an acre of wildlife habitat for every acre of land developed by the company, has helped to preserve more than 625,000 acres in 15 states.
The next five years will focus on lands critical for migration routes, iconic wildlife, watersheds and forests, according to a Walmart press release.
The specific areas that will benefit from this year's boost in funding are described in the press release:
Jamison Ranch, Calif.: Pacific Forest Trust will use a $1 million grant from Acres to acquire an easement that will protect three tracts comprising 2,416 acres in the Sierra Valley. The Jamison ranch is unique in its abundance of water, meadowlands and wetlands and is a vital habitat for wildlife. More than 5,800 contiguous acres of working landscapes will be conserved through this project.
Shasta Big Spring Ranch, Calif.: The Nature Conservancy will use this $750,000 grant to acquire more than 4,000 acres in the Shasta Big Spring Ranch in Northern California. The property includes six miles of Klamath River tributaries, which supply the cold water needed by Coho, Chinook and steelhead salmon to survive during annual migrations. The property is adjacent to 2,000 acres of ranches that are also protected by conservation easements
McArthur Lake Wildlife Corridor, Idaho: At 3,727 acres, the McArthur Lake Wildlife Corridor project preserves the narrowest and most viable link between the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak Mountain ecosystems in northern Idaho, providing a crucial connection for 1 million acres of public land. The $1 million award to The Nature Conservancy of Idaho will protect two grizzly bear recovery zones and habitat for more than two dozen species of high conservation need.
Upper Mississippi Forest Conservation Easement, Minn.: This protects more than 60,000 acres of wetlands, streams and lakeshore habitat in Northern Minnesota critical to preserving bird species, including the ruffled grouse, American woodcock and golden-winged warbler. Additionally, the Blandin Paper Company will continue operating its sustainable forestry practices on the land, supporting more than 3,000 families in the region. The public can access the lands for hunting, hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing and berry picking.
Carney Ranch Conservation Easement, Wyo.: Through the Acres program, a grant of $785,000 was awarded to The Conservation Fund for the 2,400-acre Carney Ranch Conservation Easement. The land is a critical part of the annual migration route of the pronghorn antelope - the second longest mammal migration route still functioning in the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, this easement is home to more than 75 animal species deemed in need of protection in Wyoming.
Sommers-Grindstone Ranch Conservation Easement, Wyo.: This project protects more than 19,000 acres, including 7.5 miles of Green River frontage and 49.5 miles of perennial and seasonal streams. The land is a key breeding ground for the sage grouse and connects the Bridger Teton National Forest with Bureau of Land Management lands. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will manage the land.
Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, and South Dakota all also have land protected through the Acres for America program.