NEW ORLEANS — Environmental innovators in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are implementing solutions for the management of the mid-South’s natural and environmental resources through a $500,000 grant from Entergy Corporation to The Nature Conservancy.
With support from Entergy’s Environmental Initiatives Fund and other grant programs, the projects are engineered to make a positive difference in habitat, water purification and climate through coastal and wetlands restoration in the four states served by the utility.
“Entergy’s environmental commitment includes protecting natural resources crucial to sustaining our region and way of life,” said Chuck Barlow, Entergy vice president of environmental strategy and policy. “By joining forces with community partners like The Nature Conservancy, we are implementing initiatives which support that objective. These actions are thoughtfully and carefully designed with the economic and environmental future of our stakeholders in mind.”
Keith Ouchley, state director for the Louisiana and Mississippi chapters of The Nature Conservancy, added, “Speaking on behalf of my colleagues, we are appreciative of Entergy’s thoughtful investment in our conservation work. Entergy’s support has allowed The Nature Conservancy in this four-state area the opportunity to advance our on-the-ground efforts related to wetland restoration and reforestation.”
Mississippi: The Nature Conservancy in Mississippi will use Entergy’s funding to leverage up to $8.4 million in funds from federal, state and local entities to implement bottomland hardwood and wetland restoration practices on existing cropland. The project has the potential to restore at least 4,000 acres in the lower Yazoo River Basin and support landowners in a region that suffers from significantly high poverty rates. Through this effort, The Nature Conservancy and Entergy are seeking new ways to improve water quality and the quality of life in Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico for current and future generations.
Arkansas: The Nature Conservancy will use Entergy’s funding to restore 500 acres of bottomland hardwood forest over the next two years. Restoring these forests will create wildlife habitat, sequester carbon and reduce harmful sediment and nutrients entering the Cache and White rivers. At more than 550,000 acres, The Big Woods of Arkansas is the Mississippi River Delta’s largest corridor of bottomland hardwood forest north of Louisiana. It reduces the impacts of flooding, provides wintering habitat for one of the largest populations of waterfowl in the world and improves water quality by filtering sediments and nutrients before they enter the Mississippi River.
Louisiana: Funding from Entergy will enable The Nature Conservancy in Louisiana to continue efforts on one of the largest floodplain reconnection projects in North America. The project involves restoration and monitoring work on Mollicy Farms, a 16,000-acre floodplain wetland complex of the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge located in Morehouse Parish. The planting of thousands of trees, the reestablishment of natural river and stream flows and the revitalization of the floodplain wetlands will improve water quality, reduce downstream flooding and provide enhanced wildlife habitat, in addition to other benefits to people and nature. Lessons learned from the project will benefit similar efforts along the Mississippi River and river systems worldwide.
Texas: The Texas chapter of The Nature Conservancy will invest Entergy’s funding in improving wetland longleaf pine savanna, low-lying wetlands and other associated forest habitats on the 5,654 acre Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary located near Silsbee in Hardin County. Prescribed burning, woody shrub control and Chinese tallow tree control will be conducted to foster open forest floor conditions for native grasses and wildflowers to benefit diverse plant and animal life. Collection of native seed and establishment of a native plant plot for future restoration projects in the region will be established. The Preserve is designated as one of the top 500 Globally Important Birding Sites by the American Bird Conservancy, contains an 8.5-mile section of Village Creek included in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Paddling Trail Program and is open to the public for hiking and nature study.