Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Wal-Mart's Land Swap

This came across the Associated Press Wire today...
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer,
pledged Tuesday to spend $35 million compensating for wildlife
habitat lost nationwide beneath its corporate "footprint."
Acre for acre, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it would buy an amount
of land equal to all the land its stores, parking lots and
distribution centers use over the next 10 years. That would
conserve at least 138,000 acres in the United States as
"priority" wildlife habitat.
The money will go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation,
a private nonprofit group created by Congress in 1984 to leverage
federal dollars for conservation projects, including 312,000 acres
in Maine alone.
"We introduced the concept of the offset program to Wal-Mart
last year," said Max Chapman Jr., the foundation's chairman.
"They were quick to say yes, and Wal-Mart's leadership is raising
the bar in conservation."
It's the first time any U.S. corporation has pledged such an
arrangement, according to Interior Department officials, who will
help decide which places to conserve. Interior Secretary Gale
Norton said she hopes the deal becomes a model for other companies.
The action also helps Wal-Mart burnish its green credentials,
just ahead of Earth Day. The company bought full-page ads in
Tuesday's editions of The New York Times and The Washington Post
and ads in about 20 other papers touting its new wildlife habitat
Wal-Mart has come under scrutiny over its labor practices and
how its stores affect communities and competing retailers. Last
month it paid a record $11 million to settle federal charges of
employing hundreds of illegal immigrants.
With a quarter trillion dollars in annual sales, Wal-Mart
employs 1.6 million people at 3,600 U.S. stores and 1,570 stores
The foundation plans to raise $35 million to match the Wal-Mart
money, but said it would start off by putting $8.8 million from
Wal-Mart toward a $20.5 million project to conserve land in five
--Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana: Buying
privately owned land to expand the refuges by 40 percent to 6,098
--Sherfield Cave/Buffalo National River in Arkansas: Adding 1,226
acres of bat habitat.
--North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona: Buying two private
ranches with 1,259 acres.
--Squaw Creek in Oregon: Buying a conservation easement on a
private ranch to protect 1,120 acres along a tributary of the
Deschutes River to aid salmon and steelhead fish populations.
--Downeast Lakes region of Maine: Protecting 312,000 acres around
Washington County, including 54 lakes and 1,500 miles of river and
stream shoreline.


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