Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Partners for Fish and Wildlife

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's habitat restoration cost-sharing program for private landowners. The program was established to provide technical and financial assistance to conservation minded farmers, ranchers and other private (nonfederal and nonstate) landowners who wish to restore fish and wildlife habitat on their land.

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program emphasizes the restoration of historic ecological communities for the benefit of native fish and wildlife in conjunction with the desires of private landowners. The goals of the program are to:

  • Implement proactive, voluntary, on-the-ground habitat restoration projects that benefit federal trust species and their habitats on private and tribal lands.
  • Provide technical and financial assistance to landowners who are interested in providing suitable habitat for fish and wildlife on their property.
  • Provide leadership and promote partnerships using the Service's and other organizations' expertise.
  • Conduct public outreach to broaden understanding of fish and wildlife habitats while encouraging and demonstrating conservation efforts.

Habitat Restoration in California

Native vegetation: Great Basin Wild Rye at Pete's Creek, in California. (USFWS)

California has lost more than 90 percent of its historic wetlands and over 95 percent of its historic streamside trees, shrubs, and ground vegetation due to urbanization, agricultural conversion, flood control, and invasion by nonnative plants. It is estimated that an astounding 99 percent of the historic native grasslands of California have been lost or have become dominated by nonnative plants. Habitat restoration and conservation is essential to preserving California's fish and wildlife resources. With more than two-thirds of California's land in private ownership, the future of the state's wildlife habitat is dependent on the conservation practices of the private landowner. Since 1990, the Partners program has restored and enhanced over 62,000 acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat for the benefit of federal trust species; that is, migratory birds, anadromous fish, and threatened and endangered species.

Habitat Restoration in the Klamath Basin

Breaching levees to reconnect the Sprague River to its floodplain. (USFWS)

Historically, the pristine habitats in the Klamath River watershed attracted over 6 million migrating waterfowl annually, and produced the third largest salmon runs on the west coast of the United States. The Klamath River watershed is one of the most timber-dominated watersheds along the north coast of California, providing habitat for the marbled murrelet and Northern spotted owl. Its numerous rivers and streams provide spawning and cold water habitat for salmon, suckers, trout, steelhead, lamprey, sturgeon, and other aquatic species.

Since 1986, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, along with many landowner and agency partners, has restored spring wetland complexes and their connectivity to the river, enhanced riparian habitats, restored riverine morphology, worked with landowners to develop ranch management plans, and restored other ecosystem processes to a variety of habitats.

Habitat Restoration in Nevada

Removal of non-native fish in Nevada. (USFWS)

Aquatic habitats in Nevada support the greatest number of federally-listed fish species (26) of any state in the nation. Desert springs, streams, and riparian areas are vital to amphibians and mollusks, as well as for fish and migratory birds. Commonly located on private land, because homesteaders settled near limited water sources, nearly all of these aquatic systems have been degraded, causing many native species to be listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened or endangered. Aquatic systems are the life of the desert, supporting the economy through agriculture, grazing, recreation and mining. Partners for Fish and Wildlife are working with landowners to protect and restore populations of endemic and native species. These include: Lahontan cutthroat trout, bald eagle, pygmy rabbit, Webbers ivesia, Yosemite toad, and mountain yellow-legged frog.

how to become a partner

    • If you are a private landowner and are interested in restoring fish and wildlife habitat on your property,
      the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program may be for you.
    • Project Criteria
    • Your project must meet certain criteria in order to qualify for assistance from the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program:

      -- Your project must restore or enhance habitat. Your project must benefit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trust species, such as migratory birds, anadromous fish, or threatened and endangered species.
      -- Your project must be located on nonfederal and non-state land.
      -- Your project should reestablish natural historical communities with little maintenance.
      -- There should be a reasonable expectation of success in achieving project objectives.
      -- You and/or other partners must provide a viable match for the project. You can contribute cash or may provide an in-kind contribution such as labor, use of equipment, or materials.

      Partners for Fish and Wildlife projects are not eligible to be used as compensatory mitigation for purposes of meeting state and federal regulatory program requirements.
      Learn More...

    • The Process
    • -- An interested landowner contacts a Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist to discuss his/her ideas and set up a site visit.

      -- The landowner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, and representatives from other interested cooperating organizations, meet on the property to evaluate the site and discuss the landowner's goals and objectives.

      -- The Service biologist helps to determine habitat improvements that can be made on the property that would benefit wildlife. Technical advice on project design, material, and engineering is provided by the Service, as appropriate.

      -- Cost sharing options are discussed. The goal is to achieve at least 50 percent of project costs through cost share and/or in-kind contributions from our partners. Projects that involve greater non-Service partnerships and/or cost sharing are more desirable.

      -- A habitat restoration proposal is developed by the Service biologist with assistance from the landowner.

      If the project is selected for funding, a Wildlife Extension Agreement or Cooperative Agreement is signed by the landowner and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The agreement must be for a minimum of 10 years.

      Project funds are disbursed via direct deposit and receipt reimbursement. The final payment to the landowner will be made upon project completion.
    • Other funding opportunities.