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Conservation grant awarded

PICAYUNE — Southern Company, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Association of Counties and Wildlife Habitat Council today announced that eight new wetland, riparian and coastal conservation grants have been awarded in the Southeast through the Five Star Restoration Program.

This year, Atlanta-based Southern Company, the parent company of Mississippi Power in Gulfport, provided $198,928 in grants and, combined with partner matching funds, a total of nearly $580,000 to restore more than 81 wetland acres and 12,500 feet of riparian buffer across 8 projects in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

In Mississippi, a Five Star grant is going to the Crosby Arboretum Foundation. The funds will be used to create a 13,300-square-foot gum pond wetland exhibit with interpretive signage and trails at the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, where it will serve as an outdoor classroom for area schools and the visiting public. This project will be the first forested wetland education exhibit to interpret gum pond ecology in the Southern U.S. Project partners include Mississippi State University and its Extension Service, Pearl River County Master Gardeners and 4-H Forest Club.

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