Restore the Earth Foundation (REF) had a vision of restoring one million acres of degraded lands, which includes critical wetlands, in the Lower Mississippi River Delta. In 2015, REF proposed a project to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to fulfill this vision. A grant of $225,000 was awarded to jumpstart their project through NFWF’s Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program, which is supported by the Shell Marine Habitat Program.

REF presented Shell with the opportunity to help support the first phase of the project at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Pointe Aux Chenes Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Shell employees jumped on the chance to help protect the Louisiana coast, an essential part of the state they call home.

On October 27th, about 35 volunteers from Shell’s deep water and pipeline businesses and contractors joined forces with other volunteers from across the country. The group planted bald cypress saplings between protective levees near the WMA access road. Using shovels and their bare hands, volunteers dug holes, planted 600 trees and marked them for monitoring in less than two hours!

“This collaboration with the Restore the Earth Foundation is a great way for us to play a role in protecting the coast,” said Teresa Hetrick, Environmental Manager for Deep Water Gulf of Mexico. “It’s inspiring to see so many members of the Shell community who are passionate about improving the resilience of Louisiana’s coastline.”

The project begins with the restoration of 1,000 acres of once-forested wetlands and aims to ultimately plant 4,000 acres. This volunteer activity marked the first step in REF’s broader plan to restore one million acres in what they’ve dubbed “North America’s Amazon”. The LDWF manages more than 1.6 million acres of public lands, including the 35,000-acre Pointe Aux Chenes tract in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes.

To pilot this project, earlier this year another group of Shell volunteers planted 500 trees in the same WMA. The trees planted then are now growing and thriving, an important first sign that the overall project will be successful.

REF’s Pointe Aux Chenes project was identified and arranged by Shell through its relationships with NFWF. The volunteer opportunity presented the SEEDS Network (Shell Employees Encouraging Development Sustainability) in Louisiana with a chance to get Shell employees active in protecting coastal Louisiana.

To learn more about Louisiana’s Pointe Aux Chenes WMA, NFWF’s Gulf Coast Conservation Grant Program, and REF, please visit the links below:

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