Southwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America

About the Southwest Region

Southwest Region map with habitat and species
Southwest Region map that highlights habitat and species. credit: USFWS.

Watch out for the spiny endangered Acura Cactus as you roam our deserts. If you listen closely, you may even hear the howl of the Mexican wolf! The Southwest Region encompasses Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma, with our Regional Office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We work with a variety of partners and other agencies, communities, tribal governments, conservation groups, businesses interests, landowners and concerned citizens to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and their habitat. The Region is home to more than:

  • 47 National Wildlife Refuges
  • 8 National Fish Hatcheries
  • 1 Fish Health Center
  • 4 Fishery Resources Offices
  • 7 Ecological Services Field Offices
  • 19 Law Enforcement Offices
  • 5 Border Inspection Stations.

The region also employs 900 dedicated professionals. They are the ones who make our conservation work possible. The Southwest’s beautiful and diverse landscape provides habitat for a wide variety of remarkable native plant and animal species. In Arizona, wildlife adapts to exist in environments ranging from scorching lowland deserts to scenic mountain peaks. New

Southwest cactus in bloom. Credit: USFWS.

Mexico’s breathtaking vistas intertwine with ancient cultural landscapes, accommodating many species sacred to Native Americans. From the gulf coast beaches to the plains of the panhandle, Texas boasts 13 National Wildlife Refuges and is home to a wide variety of special species including:

whooping cranes; the Attwater’s prairie chicken; and the Bone Cave harvestman.

Oklahoma’s expansive landscapes lay claim to species that represent the historic character of the West; prairie dogs, elk and bison still roam the plains - many making their homes on one of the state’s nine National Wildlife Refuges.



Buffalo pair in grasses.

Buffalo pair with calf. Credit: USFWS.  

National Wildlife Refuges

The national Wildlife Refuges are a unique system of lands dedicated to preserving a rich quality of life for Americans by protecting their wildlife heritage. In the Southwest Region, Refuges protect some of the most varied wildlife and spectacular landscapes found anywhere in the world. From subtropical shrub ecosystems to saguaro-studded deserts - all are filled with an unparalleled richness and abundance of life. Included among the wonders of Southwestern Refuges include the complex and beautiful Sonoran Desert in Arizona, Texas’s coastal marshes that host massive flocks of waterfowl every winter, strange creatures found only in the sinkholes of New Mexico, and Oklahoma caves filled with endangered bats.

The Southwest Region handles a variety of state grant programs, ranging from the more than half-a-century-old Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs, to relatively recent additions such as State Wildlife Grants. Approximately $80 million in federal funding is awarded each year through the nine grant programs to eligible state agencies in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. Thanks to successful partnerships forged decades ago, the public continues to benefit from fish and wildlife conservation, management and restoration efforts in the Southwest.


Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

grasslands of the southwest
Grasslands of the southwest. Credit: USFWS.  

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is recalibrating the way we work with others in an environment of increasing complexity and uncertainty. Our leading role in Landscape Conservation Cooperatives is a key part of our modernized approach to conservation, called Strategic Habitat Conservation.

LCCs help bring people and resources together for strategic advantage, strengthening the collective impact of the conservation community. There are 22 LCCs across the country, three of which are in the Southwest: the Desert LCC, Great Plains LCC, and Gulf Coast Prairie LCC. Their boundaries are determined by landscape geography and ecology, not government jurisdictions or organizational parameters.

Alligator in southwest marshes. Credit: USFWS.

These self-directed conservation science partnerships involve many organizations—from Federal, State, and Tribal Government agencies to non-governmental organizations and universities. LCCs don’t carry out conservation efforts on the ground; rather, they inform those actions with science. LCCs provide crucial science and technical expertise to support partners in conservation planning at landscape scales—beyond the reach or resources of any one organization. They also promote more effective collaboration among LCC partners in defining shared conservation goals. Then LCC partners identify where and how they will take action, within their own authorities and organizational priorities, to best contribute to a broader conservation effort and accomplish more lasting results.

Last updated: April 9, 2014