DETROIT, Oct. 15, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced the launch of the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund, a competitive grant program that will provide $1.2 million in its first year to benefit Southeast Michigan communities and habitats. Work supported by the fund will improve resilience in the face of intensifying environmental stressors related to development, climate, invasive species, nonpoint source pollution and other factors.

Recognizing the need for a coordinated, public-private approach to address the stormwater, habitat and public-use issues in the Southeast Michigan region, six corporate, foundation and government funders have joined together to create the fund. Administered by NFWF, the fund is a partnership between ArcelorMittal, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

“It is more important than ever to continue investing in the health of our Great Lakes and waterways,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Co-Chair of the bipartisan Great Lakes Task Force. “I want to thank the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for its longstanding support for programs that protect the Great Lakes, and all of the NFWF partners that have joined together to help communities across southeast Michigan improve water quality and create new recreational opportunities for Michigan families. Along with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, this new Fund is another example of how we can leverage investments and partnerships to protect and enhance our Great Lakes.”

 “We all have a responsibility to conserve the environment for our children and grandchildren,” said Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12). “This exciting new funding opportunity will maximize public and private contributions so conservation efforts are effective in protecting public greenspaces.”

“As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and subcommittee on water, the preservation of water infrastructure remains an important issue,” said Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14). “Throughout the nation, our numerous infrastructure systems are crumbling before our eyes, and our outdated infrastructure is a direct result of a lack of maintenance and funding, significantly impacting our local communities. The $1.2 million funding available from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a step to help alleviate continuous flooding and transportation concerns for Detroit.”

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service welcomes opportunities to enhance public-private partnerships and deliver on-the-ground projects benefiting both wildlife and people,” said Charlie Wooley, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Acting Regional Director. “The Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund helps the Service and its partners support innovative projects that improve water quality, build and restore habitats, assist underserved communities, and connect urban populations with nature.”

Today, fund partners announced their first request for proposals (available for downloading at www.nfwf.org/semichigan) and applications for competitive funding are currently being accepted. Work supported by the fund will take place in the seven-county region of Southeast Michigan, including St. Clair, Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, Livingston, and Monroe counties. Grants will be awarded in two categories:

  • Expanding green stormwater infrastructure and enhancing public space
  • Improving habitat quality, connectivity and accessibility 

By investing in green stormwater infrastructure solutions, the fund will reduce flooding and other intensifying threats associated with major storm events, while also creating safe, dynamic and enjoyable public green spaces that improve habitat values for wildlife and quality of life for residents.

“This new fund complements and enhances the incredible work already underway in the Great Lakes and particularly in Southeast Michigan,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “This is an excellent opportunity to create an even bigger and broader conservation impact for the habitats and communities of the region through a uniquely collaborative approach.”

By restoring the region’s unique natural areas, the fund will enhance the quality and connectivity of habitat for wildlife, improve the ability of these habitats to withstand and absorb the impact of environmental stressors, and make nature more accessible for people.

“As a place-based Great Lakes funder, we are pleased to participate in a coordinated, regional, public-private effort to support green stormwater infrastructure projects to improve water quality and quality of life in Southeast Michigan,” said John M. Erb, president, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation. “We are deeply grateful to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for bringing together government, corporate and private foundation partners to create the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund and look forward to helping support a more beautiful, resilient region.”

“We have worked hand-in-hand with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for more than a decade to build resilience across the Great Lakes watershed and successfully advance several public-private partnerships. The launch of the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund is the next evolution of this work,” said William Steers, General Manager of Corporate Responsibility for ArcelorMittal, which recently opened ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks Detroit, the company’s first industrial operation in the state. “We aim to positively impact our communities beyond bricks and mortar and job creation. We are confident this collaboration will advance the sustainability of the region’s waterways by improving water quality and enhancing natural habitat and ecosystem services.”

“The Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund aligns squarely with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s strong interest in implementing green infrastructure throughout the Southeast Michigan region and leveraging these investments for increased access for all to public green space and recreational spaces and improved parks and trails throughout the region,” said Lavea Brachman, Vice President of Programs. “We are thrilled to be part of this unique collaborative effort of public, corporate and philanthropic partners brought together by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.”

NFWF will administer an annual competitive grant solicitation and selection process, working closely with the funding partners and an advisory team comprised of federal, state, community and local government representatives, nonprofits and other leading experts. The request for grant proposals is now open and pre-proposals are due on December 11, 2018.

For more information on the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund, visit www.nfwf.org/semichigan.

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nation’s wildlife and habitats. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions. NFWF works with government, nonprofit and corporate partners to find solutions for the most intractable conservation challenges. Over the last three decades, NFWF has funded more than 4,500 organizations and committed more than $4.8 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.

About ArcelorMittal
ArcelorMittal is the world's leading steel and mining company, with a presence in 60 countries and an industrial footprint in 19 countries. Guided by a philosophy to produce safe, sustainable steel, we are the leading supplier of quality steel in the major global steel markets including automotive, construction, household appliances and packaging, with world-class research and development and outstanding distribution networks.

Through our core values of sustainability, quality and leadership, we operate responsibly with respect to the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, contractors and the communities in which we operate. For more information about ArcelorMittal, visit: corporate.arcelormittal.com or usa.arcelormittal.com.

About the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation
The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation’s mission is to nurture environmentally healthy and culturally vibrant communities in metro Detroit, consistent with sustainable business models, and support initiatives to restore the Great Lakes Ecosystem. The Foundation is focused on improving water quality, especially in the watersheds impacting metro Detroit and Bayfield, Ontario; promoting environmental health, justice and sustainable development; and supporting the arts as a means to strengthen the metropolitan Detroit region. The 10-year old, $300 million foundation has awarded $85 million in grants to date including $15 million to promote green stormwater infrastructure. For more information, visit https://www.erbff.org/.

About the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the foundation that bears his name. The foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable, and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information, visit http://www.ralphcwilsonjrfoundation.org/.

About the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leads the nation’s environmental science, research, education, and assessment efforts. The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people. For more information, visit www.epa.gov.

About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

About the U.S. Forest Service
Established in 1905, the U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit www.fs.fed.us.

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Rob Blumenthal
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
(202) 857-0166
rob.blumenthal@nfwf.org