Wells Fargo Foundation and NFWF Grants Help Communities Prepare for Natural Disasters

Originally published on newsroom.wf.com.

The Wells Fargo Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation today announced $2.9 million in grants to 11 nonprofit organizations and tribes across the U.S. to help communities address the mounting threats of flooding, droughts, rising sea levels and longer hurricane and wildfire seasons. By investing in green infrastructure and providing conservation and resilience training for community leaders, the funded projects aim to enhance the protections naturally provided by ecosystems.

The grants will generate $5.6 million in matching contributions, for a total conservation impact of more than $8.6 million. They were awarded through the Resilient Communities Program, a $10 million, four-year initiative funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation.

These 11 projects will strengthen ecosystems and habitats for fish and wildlife and benefit community resilience:

  • SoundWaters will remove a 40,000-square-foot waterfront parking lot at John J. Boccuzzi Park in Connecticut and replace it with a “dunescape” of naturally resilient sea grass and other native species.
  • Spruce Root will increase collaboration among tribal communities in southeast Alaska on using and preserving natural resources that are vital to Alaska Native and rural communities.
  • Trout Unlimited will protect public safety, improve native fish habitat and restore the natural functions of a floodplain in Montana through dam removal, stream restoration and water management.
  • Maui Nui Marine Resource Council will increase fire resilience in 3,414 acres of Forest Reserve in Ma’alaea, Hawaii, by eliminating fuel in strategically placed corridors.
  • American Forests will accelerate resilience-focused forest restoration, engage vulnerable communities in managing wildfire risk, and train community leaders in Southern California.
  • CDP North America will add 15 U.S. cities to its Matchmaker program, a capacity-building initiative that helps local governments implement sustainable infrastructure for storm water management, urban wildlife habitats and tree canopy improvement. This brings the total number of cities sponsored by the Resilient Communities Program to 33.
  • The Nature Conservancy will restore forested wetlands within a portion of Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina to increase precipitation storage capacity and slow the runoff rate on former logging roads after storms.
  • Nez Perce Tribe will protect, restore and inventory culturally and ecologically important wet meadow habitat in Idaho’s Lolo Creek watershed to nurture vegetation and improve water quality.
  • Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project will improve the health and resilience of the Rio Grande River in Alamosa County, Colorado, by restoring streambanks and riparian areas — reducing sediment load to the river, improving wetlands habitat and reconnecting the river to its floodplain.
  • The Trust for Public Land will increase wildfire resilience for rural communities in Kern County, California, by conserving a 3,806-acre block of forest and grassland and developing a fuels management plan to enhance fire resilience, ecological health and outdoor recreation.
  • National League of Cities Institute will add eight cities to its Leadership in Community Resilience program, providing technical assistance and peer learning to design and complete resilience projects in each city.

“The 11 grants announced today with Wells Fargo will work to build resilience locally and to meet future challenges through natural systems and resources while also benefitting habitats for birds, fish and other wildlife,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “This program demonstrates how local communities can use the benefits of natural ecosystems to provide for a more resilient future.”

Stephanie Rico of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Wells Fargo said, “The devastating effects of extreme weather and longer fire seasons on local communities are impossible to ignore and tend to disproportionally impact low- and moderate-income communities. Resiliency planning is essential to the ongoing vitality of communities. By strengthening native ecosystems and building skills at the local level, we can protect where people live and work so that communities are able to thrive despite the challenges posed by a changing climate.”

In 2017, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wells Fargo created the Resilient Communities program to boost community capacity to prepare for impacts associated with coastal sea level rise, water quantity and quality issues and extended wildfire seasons. The program empowers communities to advance and employ natural features like urban tree canopies, wetlands, healthy upstream watersheds, resilient shorelines and forests that provide natural protections against extreme weather events. The Resilient Communities program also prioritizes inclusion and aiding historically underserved, low- and moderate-income communities.

To date, the Resilient Communities Program has supported 27 projects in Puerto Rico and U.S. states with more than $8.9 million in program funding distributed and $29.3 million in federal and local matching funds. These projects are restoring and protecting more than 40,000 acres of land and engaging 21,500 people in conservation and capacity building.

The grantees announced today were selected from a pool of more than 170 applicants. Projects that earned grants involve a high level of conservation expertise, partnerships with stakeholders, and dedication to the communities they serve.

A detailed listing of the 2019 grants made through the Resilient Communities program is available here.