ATLANTA—Georgia Power is giving four grants to help state birds. The major utility company is increasing its current support for Operation Migration USA, which intends to increase the population of whooping cranes by one third, as well as awarding new grants to aid other species.
Some of the money will support six Operation Migration staff members who will “condition, train, and care for whooping cranes over the summer; imprint and condition up to 12 whooping cranes for southward migration in the fall; and conduct actual southward migration from Wisconsin to Florida. The migration route includes southwest Georgia,” according to a company statement.
Georgia Power partners with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) through the Power of Flight and Longleaf Legacy programs. Through direct grants and matching funds from recipients, the two programs have contributed “an on-the-ground conservation impact of about $57.2 million since the program’s inception. These two programs will help more than 279,367 acres of longleaf pine and other critical habitat on public and private lands to be restored, enhancing bird populations across the Southeast,” according to Georgia Power.
Longleaf Pines create a unique habitat for birds. They are dependent on fire to germinate and have an open habit that allows wire grass and various flowering and fruiting plants to grow in their understory. Quails, turkeys, red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises, and many other native species benefit from the environment the pines provide. Their range shrank dramatically in the 19th and 20th centuries because timber companies replaced them with the fast-growing slash pines. The Georgia Power grants will help restore about 279,367 acres of longleaf pine and other habitats on private and public lands.
“Our partnership with Georgia Power is generating tangible, on-the-ground results through the restoration of longleaf pine forests in Georgia,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director of the NFWF in a news release. “In addition to protecting land and water systems, these projects also provide critical habitat for native bird populations. The benefits to both our natural resources and our wildlife are far-reaching.”