The Dallas-based Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation has been awarded a $290,000 Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service that will support the new Gulf Coast Conservation Loan Fund.
It’s one of 33 projects funded nationwide by the highly competitive grants.
“We’re thrilled at the news that we’ve been awarded a Conservation Innovation Grant,” TPWF Executive Director Anne Brown said. “Along with the early funders of this effort, this grant will enable us to scale our efforts up to support transformational coastal conservation and enhance the efforts of all of our nonprofit partners to restore the Gulf of Mexico, a critical biological and economic engine for our state.”
TPWF, which was started in 1991 in Dallas, said the grant will support the new fund that was created by the foundation earlier this year. Since its founding, the foundation has raised more than $170 million for conservation efforts in Texas, spokeswoman Lydia Saldaña told Dallas Innovates.
Since its founding, the foundation has raised more than $170 million for conservation efforts in Texas.
Over the next three years, the revolving loan fund will bolster Deepwater Horizon oil spill mitigation funding with interim financing for time-sensitive land conservation projects along the Texas Gulf Coast.
The grant awarded to TPWF by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is part of more than $22.6 million in grants nationwide aimed at driving public and private sector innovation in resource conservation, according to a TPWF release.
“These Conservation Innovation Grants help implement projects that take conservation efforts to a higher level,” said Salvador Salinas, Texas Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist. “Working with TPWF through their Gulf Coast Conservation Loan Fund and NRCS Farm Bill programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, these focused innovative conservation efforts will help protect and enhance natural resources on private lands that benefit all Texans.”
The Gulf Coast Conservation Loan Fund was created to help nonprofit conservation organizations secure cost-effective interim financing for projects that have been approved for a Deepwater Horizon-related grant and is supported by state natural resource agencies and trustees responsible for implementing the mitigation funding in Texas.
“These Conservation Innovation Grants help implement projects that take conservation efforts to a higher level.”
Once Deepwater Horizon grant funding is received, loans are repaid at 0 percent or below market interest so that new projects that are eligible can be considered, according to TPWF.
The revolving loan fund is part of a broad effort by the foundation to increase awareness of the importance of nonprofit partnerships and private investment in maximizing funding available from the settlements following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in 2010 that was reached with oil industry giant British Petroleum and offshore drilling company Transocean.
The Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig exploded off the Gulf Coast on April 20, 2010 — killing 11 people and injuring 17 — and led to an 87-day oil spill that sent nearly 134 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf. Coastlines from Texas to Florida were fouled and a six-year environmental and legal battle ensued.
On April 4, 2016, a federal district judge approved the largest environmental damage settlement in U.S. history, $20.8 billion.
TPWF GETS CHARTER COMMITMENT FROM LYDA HILL
Roughly $800 million is available to Texas through 2031 for environmental, economic, and tourism-oriented projects, giving private investors an opportunity to partner in the important conservation effort along the Texas Gulf Coast.
TPWF said it received a charter commitment from Dallas philanthropist Lyda Hill in March which enabled the foundation to make the first loan to The Trust for Public Land to prevent a critically important tract of land from being subdivided into a residential development.
Since then, the foundation has raised more than $4 million in loans from Texas-based foundations and individuals in support of the fund.
The foundation has raised more than $4 million in loans from Texas-based foundations and individuals in support of the fund.
A second loan was made in June to buy a piece of pristine coastal habitat near Palacios in Matagorda Bay, enableing the timely acquisition of high-priority coastal land as Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its funding partners work through the Deepwater Horizon grant award process, according to TPWF.
TPWF said it is continuing to work with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and other conservation partners to identify more eligible land projects that will receive Deepwater Horizon funding in the 2017-2018 grant cycles.
The foundation is in the midst of its “Keeping it Wild” fundraising campaign to support transformational projects aimed at keeping Texas home to “wild things and wild places.”