RICHMOND AND NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk Southern Foundation is continuing its generous support of The Nature Conservancy and its restoration efforts in the Dismal Swamp with a new $25,000 grant. The funds will help The Conservancy and partners install two water control systems and identify the most effective way to manage water flow in the swamp to reduce the threat of intense peat fires like the ones that threatened the region in 2011 and 2008.
“We appreciate Norfolk Southern Foundation’s continued support and commitment to Virginia’s residents and natural heritage”, said Michael Lipford, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Virginia. “Active water management in the Dismal Swamp will reduce the threat of intense peat fires that sent smoke as far away as Annapolis, Md., and burned more than 6,500 acres of forest and swamp. The smoke created real health concerns for Hampton Roads residents.”
Costs related to the 2011 fire and another in 2008 totaled more than $20 million combined, underscoring the need to restore the water that has been drained from the swamp through ditches – some 200 years old and dug under the direction of George Washington – and to actively manage water flow in the swamp.
"The Norfolk Southern Foundation is proud to partner with The Nature Conservancy in restoring this important natural resource,” said Blair Wimbush, NS vice president real estate and corporate sustainability officer. “We are committed to carbon sequestration and preservation of important wildlife habitat. Improving water flow in the Great Dismal Swamp is a positive step for the health of the ecosystem and for local air quality.”
This project will complement the pending installation of several other water control systems in the refuge and in Dismal Swamp State Park to the south. The 112,000-acre Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was created through a donation to The Nature Conservancy from Union Camp Corporation in 1972, and this project demonstrates The Conservancy’s long-term commitment to finding solutions and lasting benefits for people and nature.