NFWF Announces $1.3 Million in Grants From the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation Program

Grants support nine projects to protect, restore and monitor declining bird populations

HOUSTON, Dec. 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and ConocoPhillips today announced $1.3 million in grants that will conserve more than 58,000 acres of breeding, stopover and wintering bird habitat. These nine projects will protect and restore grasslands, wetlands and coastal habitats, track and monitor bird populations using innovative techniques, and facilitate conservation practices on working ranchlands. This year’s awards will support projects in Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming, and will leverage more than $3 million in matching contributions for a total conservation benefit of more than $4.3 million.

The grants were awarded through the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation Program, a partnership between NFWF, ConocoPhillips and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. With a goal of conserving and recovering populations of imperiled birds, the partnership supports work to improve the quality and connectivity of important bird habitats and accelerate innovations for understanding bird conservation needs across their ranges.

“We continue to greatly value our involvement in the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation program,” said Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Through these landscape-level projects we are able to move the needle on our conservation efforts to protect and recover our nation’s imperiled bird populations and their habitats.”

“We congratulate this year’s SPIRIT of Conservation Program winners and their deep commitment to avian species and habitat conservation,” said Natalie Riley, director of Community Relations at ConocoPhillips. “With the number of grassland birds in steep decline and their habitat under significant threat, projects such as these are essential for saving these species and restoring the ecological balance.”

“The projects we announce today will provide valuable population information that will help guide future conservation investments, in addition to securing and enhancing vital habitat for many important bird species,” said Todd Hogrefe, director of NFWF’s Central Regional Office.  “With the strong support of ConocoPhillips and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we are excited to fund these projects that will deliver significant conservation benefits not just for birds, but for many other species as well.”

The projects supported by the nine grants announced today will:

  • Restore the quality and connectivity on 25,800 acres of habitat to benefit greater sage grouse, Baird's sparrow, chestnut-collared longspur and thick-billed longspur.
  • Restore 525 acres of coastal prairie in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas to provide improved habitat for Gulf Coast grassland-dependent birds, including aplomado falcon, black rail, Botteri's sparrow and white-tailed hawk.
  • Restore 3,500 acres of wintering habitat for priority migratory grassland bird species, including Baird’s sparrow, Sprague’s pipit, chestnut-collared longspur and thick-billed longspur in the Marfa and Marathon grasslands of Texas.
  • Provide technical assistance through the Grassland Restoration Incentives Program to improve habitat on 9,000 acres of priority grassland and shrubland to benefit birds in the Edwards Plateau ecoregion of Texas.
  • Secure 1,432 acres of habitat for more than 160 bird species by acquiring a permanent conservation easement on a working family ranch in Carbon County, Wyoming.
  • Purchase a permanent conservation easement on 309 acres along the Kasilof River on the western Kenai Peninsula to protect migratory, breeding and overwintering bird habitat.
  • Provide conservation technical assistance to producers throughout the Northern Great Plains in order to create 18,000 acres of habitat for declining grassland birds.
  • Identify stopover locations of birds passing through the Gulf Coastal Plain of Texas to document habitat use and threats and to develop a species distribution model.
  • Upgrade a network of 15 radio telemetry stations to better support monitoring of migratory birds along the Texas coast.

Since 2005, ConocoPhillips, NFWF, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have invested more than $13.9 million in projects through the SPIRIT of Conservation Program. Grantees have provided an additional $30.5 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $44.4 million. As results of these investments, more than 503,000 acres of important fish and wildlife habitat in 13 states have been conserved or restored. 

A complete list of the 2020 grants made through the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation Program is available here.     

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate, and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 5,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $6.1 billion. Learn more at

About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working 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

About ConocoPhillips
Headquartered in Houston, Texas, ConocoPhillips had operations and activities in 15 countries, $63 billion of total assets, and approximately 9,800 employees at Sept. 30, 2020. Production excluding Libya averaged 1,108 MBOED for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2020, and proved reserves were 5.3 BBOE as of Dec. 31, 2019. For more information, go to



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