THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS
Toyota has been partnering with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) for 25 years. NEEF partners with local organizations across the nation to connect people of all ages and abilities with public lands for recreation, hands-on learning and community-building. Our partnership supports national parks and other public lands in fighting invasive species, planting native trees, and conducting trail maintenance and general clean up.
TACKLING INVASIVE SPECIES IN THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION
On September 28, 2019, Toyota and NEEF awarded a $200,000 grant to the Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) for a two-year project to combat invasive species in the National Capital Region. This region, a 1,500 square mile area encompassing parts of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, has 100,000 acres of protected parks, with nearly 50,000 acres of protected natural areas that provide habitat for plants, animals and other wildlife, both resident and migratory. These areas are threatened by more than 200 species of invasive plants.
In 2019, on National Public Lands Day, Toyota and NEEF announced a $200,000 grant to protect biodiversity on public lands in and around Washington, D.C. The announcement was made at Rock Creek Park, where Toyota team members were joined by NEEF and other volunteers who rolled up their sleeves to clean up trash and remove invasive species.
“This grant will vastly increase our effectiveness to do both outreach and on-the-ground management of invasive species,” said PRISM‘s Damien Ossi. The grant will support hiring a full-time Project Coordinator, forming a strike team to eliminate invasive species, and restoring three parks by removing invasive species and planting native ones.
PRISM was formally established through a General Agreement between the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), the National Park Service, Fairfax County Park Authority, Anacostia Watershed Society, Rock Creek Conservancy, and several other organizations. The coalition is governed by a steering committee made up of governmental, nonprofit and specialist partners.
“Giving a biodiversity grant is just one way we can achieve what we are trying to do in the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050,” explained Kevin Butt, regional director of Environmental Sustainability for Toyota Motor North America. “This grant helps parks to effectively reduce invasive plant impacts and increase habitat for threatened native wildlife. Partnering with an organization like NEEF allows us to get the specific talent and expertise we need to help move towards the accomplishment of Challenge 2050 — to conserve habitat for future generations.”
Pictured left to right: Kevin Butt (Toyota), Meri-Margaret Deoudes (NEEF) and David Vela (National Park Service).
COLLABORATING WITH NATIONAL PARKS
The grant to PRISM was announced at the 2019 National Public Lands Day (NPLD) Signature Event at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. For the past 21 years, Toyota has been the national corporate sponsor of NPLD, hosted by NEEF. Held every September, NPLD is the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the U.S. It is a celebration of the work, play and learning that takes place on public lands every day and offers everyone an opportunity to help maintain these special places.
At Rock Creek Park, we partnered with NEEF, the National Park Service and Rock Creek Conservancy to host over 150 volunteers at the country‘s third-oldest national park. The park protects more than 2,000 acres of the Rock Creek watershed.
“We are constantly fighting invasive plants,” said Julia Washburn, Superintendent of Rock Creek Park for the National Park Service. “We absolutely cannot do that without the help of partners and volunteers such as NEEF, Toyota and Rock Creek Conservancy.”
Volunteers spread out across the 1,800-acre urban oasis, rolled up their sleeves, and got to work on a variety of invasive species removal, native planting and trail maintenance activities. Elsewhere around the country, Toyota hosted 38 additional volunteer events with similar activities focused on improving biodiversity and various features of the parks.
Over the years, more than 50,000 Toyota team members have contributed more than 193,000 volunteer hours restoring and conserving habitat at more than 600 NPLD sites.