VW Donating $1.25 Million to Help Grow the Cherokee National Forest Share Comments They say that in the mountains outside Chattanooga, life is as peaceful as a baby’s sigh and crickets sing in the fields nearby. So Volkswagen is partnering with the Conservation Fund to add about 1,500 acres of land to the Cherokee National Forest to keep it that way. The plan is to add those 1,500 acres in three tracts near Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant. The tracts will be open to the public for hiking and outdoor recreation, like letting kids play with Junebug on a string and chasing the glowing’ fireflies when evening shadows fall. It will also help protect black bear and Indiana bat habitats. “Our work with The Conservation Fund will help strengthen the environment and help us give back to a community where more than 3,800 of our colleagues live,” said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. “We feel a responsibility to show how a major automaker can credibly contribute to the greater good.” The land is being added to the 650,000 acre National Forest, which stretches into the Smoky Mountains, on whose hilltops an eagle can spread its wings and a songbird on a fence post sings a melody. With Volkswagen’s donation, the Conservation Fund is currently negotiating with private landowners to buy properties and hold them until they can be transferred to the USDA Forest Service for longterm stewardship in 2020 and 2021. “We are excited about our partnership with Volkswagen and the opportunity to advance their commitment to corporate leadership around sustainability,” said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “Volkswagen is taking real, measurable steps forward to help protect the environment, embrace sustainable business practices and support the communities in which they work.” In addition to the work with the Cherokee National Forest, Volkswagen and the Conservation Fund are also creating a $200,000 community grant program. Through it, $50,000 grants will be given to qualified nonprofits with a view to helping improve water quality, increasing access to outdoor recreation, and advancing environmental education.