NEEF and Toyota Award 2019 Biodiversity Conservation Grant
October 17, 2019

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) is proud to announce the National Capital Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) as a recipient of the 2019 Biodiversity Conservation Grant.  With major support from Toyota Motor North America, the Biodiversity Conservation Grant provides $200,000 in grant funding to support PRISM's biodiversity conservation projects on America's public lands. PRISM will utilize this funding for a two-year project to manage invasive species across the National Capital Region, restoring biodiversity and protecting critical habitats in parts of Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

NEEF's Biodiversity Conservation Grant leverages the organization's long-standing relationships with US land management agencies at the federal, state, and local levels to tap into established, large-scale biodiversity conservation projects. Funding for the grant program supports projects working within the same ecological region, which allows NEEF to reach the scale needed to make a significant impact on biodiversity issues in these areas.

“This grant helps parks to effectively reduce invasive plant impacts and increase habitat for threatened native wildlife,” said Kevin Butt, general manager, Toyota Environmental Sustainability. “It ties in with our biodiversity goals and aim to conserve habitat for future generations.”

Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM)

PRISM is composed of local and federal government agencies, conservation organizations, and academic institutions in the National Capital Region. These entities work together to raise awareness of the impacts of invasive species, restore biodiversity and protect critical habitats by managing invasive species, and train professionals and volunteers to identify and manage invasive species. Together, PRISM members are responsible for the management of roughly 1,500 square miles of forested lands in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

Projects Throughout the National Capital Region

With help from NEEF'S Biodiversity Conservation Grant, PRISM will coordinate and implement three restoration projects in the National Capital Region that will target discrete areas for invasive species management and restoration with native species.
These projects include:

  • “Take Back the Forest,” a partnership with the Fairfax County Park Authority's Invasive Management Area (IMA) program that will engage approximately 650 volunteers across 30 volunteer workdays over a two-month period. Work will include replacing invasive plants with native species, as well as targeted herbicide control in two critical areas in Mark Twain Park and a section of Huntsman Park.
  • Site restoration of Melvin C. Hazen Park, a natural area located within the boundaries of Rock Creek Park. The National Park Service (NPS) and Rock Creek Conservancy (RCC) will create a two-year joint restoration plan incorporating chemical treatment of non-native, invasive plants for two consecutive seasons; planting native shrubs, grasses, and forbs by volunteer groups; and community education through events and social media.
  • Collaboration between NPS, RCC, and Montgomery Parks in Montgomery County, MD, for biodiversity conservation across park boundaries. This partnership will create a plan for coordinated invasive plant control in Montgomery Parks to reduce spread of non-native species between the two jurisdictions. RCC, Montgomery Parks, and Rock Creek Park will also host several volunteer events each year that work across park boundaries.

“Rock Creek Conservancy plays a unique role coordinating cost-effective strategies with public and private partners to protect biodiversity of the entire Rock Creek watershed,” said Jeanne Braha, executive director of Rock Creek Conservancy. “This type of people-powered restoration work in Washington, DC and Montgomery County, Maryland, revitalizes the forest understory, protects wildlife habitat, and secures a natural buffer for Rock Creek, while catalyzing greater stewardship by park friends and neighbors.”

NEEF will work closely with RCC, Fairfax County Park Authority, and PRISM to document the project's planned volunteer activities through stories, photos, and other media, as well as share the volunteer experience at PRISM-hosted events to encourage public participation in the future.