MEMPHIS, Tenn, Oct. 21, 2021—First Horizon Foundation, the private charitable foundation of First Horizon Corporation, has announced a lead gift to catalyze conservation and restoration efforts in the floodplains of the Mississippi River on the Memphis/Arkansas state line.
Big River Park Conservancy, a Big River Strategic Initiative 501(c)3, which seeks to ensure a sustainable future for the Mississippi River wetlands and serve the ever-growing recreational and outdoor needs of the region, is collaborating with Ducks Unlimited and TennGreen Land Conservancy to acquire and restore 1,500 acres of land along the Mississippi River, primarily between the Hernando de Soto bridge and Big River Crossing on the Harahan bridge.
This critical portion of the Mississippi River waterfront is currently subdivided into multiple ownerships. Currently, Big River Park Conservancy and TennGreen Land Conservancy own close to 500 acres of land in West Memphis and Crittenden County, AR with another 1,025 acres under a purchase option agreement.
First Horizon's lead gift kickstarts the Conservancy's shared vision, which will restore, protect, and enhance the land's natural features as well as add trail and park amenities to cultivate recreation and bolster existing tourism efforts spurred by Big River Crossing and the Big River Trail.
"With the Mississippi River as one of our company's environmental focus areas, we are proud to play a vital role in this initiative," said Bryan Jordan, President and CEO of First Horizon, whose headquarters in Downtown Memphis offer direct proximity to the future Big River Park. "This initiative and partnership will safeguard and conserve the land along the river as well as provide our community with opportunities to enjoy the beautified space."
Big River Crossing opened five years ago on October 22, 2016, as the country's longest active bike-pedestrian rail bridge. First Horizon Foundation was an early partner in the bridge's establishment, which has since welcomed over one million visitors across the Mississippi River.
"Big River Crossing created this opportunity to have a completely unique recreational and natural area within walking distance of Downtown Memphis, and we are grateful for First Horizon's support of the continuity of this great project," said Dow McVean on behalf of Big River Strategic Initiative.
Big River Park Conservancy's wetlands conservation will provide environmental benefits that include clean air and water, coastal storm protection, flood water storage, habitat restoration and conservation, creating an improved quality of life for nearby communities.
First Horizon is focused on improving the health, vitality and sustainability of its communities through the organization's Corporate Social Responsibility strategy and grants funded by the First Horizon Foundation. Earlier this year, First Horizon released its 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, which highlighted significant commitment to Environmental, Social and Governance efforts. To learn more visit www.firsthorizon.com/csr.
"The Mighty Mississippi is central to Memphis' identity," said Adam Putman, CEO of Ducks Unlimited, the world's largest and most effective private, nonprofit, waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization. "DU is proud of our Memphis corporate headquarters and we are especially honored to showcase conservation work in our own backyard. Partnering to conserve 1,500 acres along this essential alluvial valley only makes sense for DU, and we are grateful for First Horizon's environmental, social and governance efforts to directly support this region and our work."
Learn more about the project at br-si.org/big-river-park.
About First Horizon Foundation
First Horizon Foundation is the private charitable foundation of First Horizon National Corporation. Founded in 1993, our Foundation has donated more than $110 million to meet community needs. Grants from the Foundation support the following impact areas: Arts & Culture, Education & Leadership, Environment, Financial Literacy, and Health & Human Services. More information is available at www.firsthorizonfoundation.com.
About Big River Strategic Initiative
The Big River Strategic Initiative (BRSI) is a collection of projects activating and celebrating the Mississippi River and its surrounding landscape. BRSI has now grown to include Big River Crossing, an active biking and pedestrian bridge over the Mississippi River connecting Tennessee and Arkansas, and Big River Trail System, a mixed-use trail network spanning over 110 miles with 7 miles of established trails in Big River Park.
About Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information, visit www.ducks.org.
About TennGreen Land Conservancy
TennGreen Land Conservancy (formerly the Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation) is a 501(c)(3) environmental nonprofit and the oldest accredited statewide land conservancy in Tennessee. Through sound science and partnerships, TennGreen identifies and conserves land for wildlife corridors, critical habitat, and public benefit. TennGreen protects, cares for, and connects people with the natural world by providing meaningful outdoor experiences, establishing conservation easements, supporting restoration efforts, and acquiring (or assisting in the acquisition of) privately-held land. To learn more, visit tenngreen.org.