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Release Date: 9/10/1998
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

   As part of its efforts to promote sustainable development, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Region 6 office has awarded a Sustainable Development Challenge grant for $48,200 to Northeast Delta Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) in Winnsboro, Louisiana, to establish a non-profit hardwood seedling nursery within the Tensas River Basin of Northeast Louisiana.  The project, called Tensas PRIDE, is a public-private partnership that aims to increase job and income opportunities in one of the nation's most economically depressed communities, while restoring a unique and valuable forested wetlands environment.  

    Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke stated, "EPA strongly supports watershed protection and restoration projects such as Tensas PRIDE.  Restoring the Tensas River Basin's forested wetlands is vitally important to the overall efforts to preserve and restore Louisiana's valuable wetlands.  Moreover, the project will immediately benefit the local community  by educating people about forested wetlands, involving them in activities to create a sustainable watershed, and providing jobs."  

    The Tensas River Basin, a 718,000 acre watershed that lies in an economically distressed rural area, has some of the nation's richest ecosystems in terms of plant and animal diversity.  It attracts multitudes of migrating birds, and it is home to the Louisiana brown bear, a federally threatened species.  Historically, more than 90% of the watershed was made up of bottomland hardwoods;  through the years, however, almost 85 percent of the forests have been cleared for agricultural uses.  This loss of forest land has impaired water quality in the watershed, increased flooding, reduced recreational opportunities, and destroyed fish and wildlife habitat.  Altogether, these impacts have contributed to the long-term socio-economic decline of the area.  

    Tensas PRIDE is an important part of the long-term strategy for solving the Tensas River Basin's environmental problems.  Once the seedling nursery is set up, landowners and other local residents will learn methods for re-establishing the ecology of the ancient hardwood forest.  The planted seedlings will help restore wildlife habitat and water quality, reduce soil erosion, and  enhance the area for recreation.  Tensas PRIDE will also have important economic and sociological benefits by offering educational opportunities and income to land owners, land users, students, and teachers.  

    "EPA believes that communities, businesses, and government need to accept responsibility for investing in a sustainable future that links environmental protection, economic prosperity, and community well-being.  Environmental progress will not be achieved solely by regulation," said Mr. Cooke.

    The Tensas PRIDE project was one of 45 projects funded nationwide under the Sustainable Development Challenge Grants program.  The grants, totaling $5 million, are intended to provide leveraging for other public and private funding in the communities.  The program promotes partnership and encourages community-based projects that integrate environmental protection and local community and economic goals.For more information about Sustainable Development Challenge Grants, visit EPA's web site at