Thanks to contributions from U-Haul and its customers, more than 12,500 native trees will be planted across 23 acres at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) through The Conservation Fund’s Go Zero® program. The new forests will provide important habitat for the migratory birds and a variety of other wildlife along Maryland’s Eastern shore.
More than one million U-Haul customers have aided this cause so far by contributing $3, $5 or $10 to The Conservation Fund at checkout when visiting U-Haul stores and neighborhood dealers. Each gift helps to plant trees and protect forests, build urban parks and create green jobs. With their support, new white oak, loblolly, willow oak, maple and sycamore trees will provide food and shelter for the thousands of migrating birds and ducks that flock to Eastern Neck NWR every winter to feast on acorns, seeds and small bugs.
“U-Haul customers have embraced our partnership with The Conservation Fund because we all aim to be good stewards of our planet,” U-Haul Executive Vice President Stuart Shoen said. “Sustainability is ingrained in our core beliefs and our business model, whether it’s reducing the carbon footprint through truck sharing or committing to causes that replenish our natural resources. The Conservation Fund enables U-Haul and the do-it-yourself mover to have a direct effect on improving the environment and growing a better world for future generations. We sincerely appreciate our customers, Team Members and The Conservation Fund for making a difference.”
Located at the confluence of the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay, Eastern Neck NWR is a 2,285 acre island that hosts over 240 bird species, including tundra swans and bald eagles. As part of the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex — which also includes Blackwater NWR, Martin NWR and Susquehanna NWR — the Refuge offers its visitors recreational activities such as wildlife viewing, boating, fishing and hunting and hiking along seven trails.
“We are very excited about this opportunity to restore forested habitats on Eastern Neck NWR,” said Matt Whitbeck, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist with the refuge. “This is a project we have wanted to complete for years, but funding constraints have limited our ability to do so. This partnership will help us meet our restoration goals and put good habitat on the ground for wildlife.”
The Conservation Fund has worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service at this Complex for more than a decade, adding nearly 8,000 acres, including historical lands to establish the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument. The Fund also sponsored the planting of 10,000 trees at Blackwater NWR to help provide habitat for migratory birds and help wildlife that depend on the marshes for clean, safe water.
“Our partnerships with U-Haul and USFWS result in real, measurable and lasting change for forests, wildlife and communities,” said The Conservation Fund’s VP of Business Partnerships, Jena Thompson Meredith. “We’re proud to help bring together some of the best biologists and wildlife stewards in the nation with one of nation’s top businesses committed to sustainability to help our National Wildlife Refuges. This is great news for wildlife, and demonstrates a model for engaging customers and inspiring employees rooted in a continued commitment by U-Haul and its customers to conservation and community.”
All photos are courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
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