1. What is the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program?
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program is a technical and financial assistance program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It works in voluntary partnership with private (nonfederal) landowners to restore wetlands, streams and river corridors, grasslands and other important fish and wildlife habitats for Federal trust species (migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, anadromous fish, and some marine mammals). The Program provides advice on the design and location of potential restoration projects as well as financial assistance to implement the projects. Program staff also provide technical assistance to the US Department of Agriculture on its conservation programs.
A. Implement proactive, voluntary,
on-the-ground habitat restoration projects that benefit Federal trust
fish and wildlife species on private and tribal lands.
B. Develop partnerships to
implement these habitat restoration projects.
C. Demonstrate applied technology
for habitat restoration projects to help the public understand and participate
in fish and wildlife resource conservation.
Who can become a Partner?
Although our primary partners are private landowners, anyone interested in restoring and protecting wildlife habitat on private or tribal lands can get involved in the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, including other Federal, State and local agencies, private organizations, corporations, and educational institutions.
What kind of land is eligible for restoration under the program?
Any type of privately-owned degraded fish or wildlife habitat is potentially eligible for restoration under the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Federal and state owned lands are not eligible.
How does the Service handle the financial assistance in the program?
In conjunction with its interested partners, the Service provides financial assistance to private landowners for a restoration project. The landowner may perform the restoration and be reimbursed directly for some or all of his or her expenses, or they may hire a contractor to complete the work.
In California, Nevada and the Klammath region of Oregon, a 50:50 cost
share is sought. The landowner's contribution can be either in the form
of cash or as an in-kind contribution such as labor, use of equipment,
or materials. Partners for Fish and Wildlife funds may not used to purchase
or lease real property interest or to make rental or other incentive
payments to landowners.
Do I have to allow public access to my land?
No. Having a Partners for Fish and Wildlife restoration project on your property does not mean that you have to open your land to public access. Service employees, however, may occasionally need access to the project to check on its progress.
What is a Wildlife Extension Agreement?
Before implementing habitat improvement projects, the Service and the landowner must sign an assistance agreement or similar document that protects the Federal investment. The length of the agreement must be proportional to the technical and financial assistance provided by the Service, but in no case will the duration be less than 10 years. The agreement states that the landowner will not return the project to its former use or degrade the value of the habitat during the agreement period without reimbursing the Service for the funds spent on the project. Otherwise, the landowner still retains all legal rights to their property. (View a sample Wildlife Extension Agreement.)
How can I become a partner?
You can become involved by contacting the Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist for your area. If a project appears feasible, and fits within the program's priorities, the biologist will schedule a visit to your property. To find the Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist for your area, please see our contact information page.
When will the work be done?
The project will be done as soon as possible based on site selection priorities, available funds and site conditions (seasonal conditions). Your project may be done that field season, or you may be added to a list of waiting landowners.
Where does the program focus its efforts? What priorities drive the
The US Fish and Wildlife Service focuses projects in ecosystems or watersheds where our efforts will accomplish the greatest benefits for Federal trust species. Projects are designed so that they contribute to the objectives set for these areas. Highest priority is given to projects that benefit declining migratory bird and fish species, species that are endangered, threatened, or proposed for listing, and to projects on private lands that satisfy the needs of wildlife populations on National Wildlife Refuges or contribute to the resolution of problems on refuges.
The Service also gives special
consideration to projects that:
1) are on permanently protected
2) are identified as high priority by Service ecosystem teams or State fish and wildlife agencies and other partners;
3) reduce habitat fragmentation;
4) conserve or restore natural communities
5) result in self-sustaining systems that are not dependent on artificial structures.
If other considerations are
roughly equal, priority is given to projects that:
1) have longer duration agreements;
2) involve greater non-Service partnerships and/or cost sharing; and
3) have the greatest cost effectiveness.
How do I know if my land has areas suitable for habitat restoration?
Almost any land that has been subjected to intensive land use (cropping, haying, grazing, timber harvest, mining) may have restoration potential. If you are unsure whether your land is restorable, contact your local Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist for more information. He or she will be able to assess your goals, the land's restoration potential, and the best approach to meet your needs.
For freshwater wetland restoration,
areas that have been ditched or drained are the most common and easiest
sites to restore. Saltmarsh restorations are often done in areas where
soil or other fill was placed in the wetland, where the marsh has been
isolated from tidal influence, or where the marsh was ditched for mosquito
Riparian restoration is usually undertaken when stream and river banks have little or no vegetation and are eroding.
Upland restoration (grasslands, prairies, forests and other habitats) are usually completed in places where the land has been disturbed and the native vegetation removed or where the area has been overtaken by nonnative weedy or invasive species.
A walk around the property
with a Service biologist is the best way to find out about the restoration
potential of the site.
How is the restoration done?
The project will be designed to restore the original look and function of the habitat. Methods used in freshwater wetland restoration include restoring wetland topography to leveled agricultural fields, creating depressional areas, and recreating natural drainageways and stream meanders. Small berms or dikes may be constructed to block existing drainage systems, impound water, and create shallow water areas where plants can grow.
Riparian and in-stream restoration
often involves fencing areas to prevent livestock from having direct
access to a stream, providing an alternate water source, and allowing
nature to take its course in revegetating the stream banks. Sometimes
native vegetation is planted to speed up the restoration process. In
other cases, stream restoration can involve innovative bioengineering
techniques to re-create the shape and structure of the stream.
Upland restoration to native grass or woodland is usually accomplished through seeding, planting, or manipulation of existing vegetation through revised management practices (burning, cutting, grazing).
Habitat restoration for specific
fish and wildlife species, such as endangered species, can take many
forms depending on the habitat needs of the wildlife. At many sites,
several methods of restoration are done together. Native vegetation
is always a priority for restoration.
What kind of maintenance is required?
Most wetland restorations are designed to require very little or no maintenance. Controlling livestock access and maintaining water control structures are usually all that is required. This minor maintenance is generally the responsibility of the landowner. Major maintenance requirements, such as repairing dikes or replacing water control structures, are reviewed on a case by case basis. Normal long term maintenance and repair of these structures is generally the responsibility of the landowner.
Will the Service help me build a stock pond on my property?
The Service does not provide funding for stock pond construction under the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. We can, however, provide technical assistance that can help improve your existing pond for wildlife use. Generally, the primary goal of pond construction, whether by excavation or impoundment, is to maximize the amount of open water while minimizing the growth of cattails and other aquatic plants. These ponds provide limited value for wetland wildlife.
The goal of most wetland
restoration projects is to create a diversity of habitat through a mixture
of open water, emergent plants, shallow channels, and islands. Deeper
water areas are usually a component of these systems, but average water
depth for the entire project is less than 18 inches and sometimes these
wetlands are only flooded on a seasonal basis. These conditions provide
greater value to a diverse group of wildlife from waterfowl and shorebirds
to amphibians and invertebrates.