The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead Federal agency responsible for conserving and managing the nation’s fish and wildlife resources. The Arizona Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program helps the Service fulfill its mission to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants by providing technical and financial support to private landowners in Arizona who want to improve fish and wildlife habitat on their land.
Habitat restoration and conservation is vital to improving and preserving Arizona’s fish and wildlife resources. In Arizona, 17% of the land is privately owned, 28% is owned by Indian Tribes, 13% is managed by the State, and the remaining 42% is managed by various federal agencies. The future of the state's wildlife habitat is dependent on the conservation practices on these lands. Since 1992, the Arizona Partners program has focused on protecting, restoring, and/or enhancing wetland and streamside (riparian) habitats that will benefit federal trust species; federally listed threatened and endangered species, waterfowl, shorebirds, and migratory birds.
Major goals of the Partners Program
The Partners Program emphasizes the restoration and enhancement of ecological communities for the benefit of threatened and endangered species and other Federal trust species in conjunction with the desires of private landowners. The goals of the program are to:
Protect Federal threatened and endangered species, and other Federal trust species;
Protect and restore valuable habitat such as riparian, wetland, stream, and grasslands on non-Federal lands;
Restore biological integrity;
Reduce habitat fragmentation;
Develop partnerships to restore habitat;
Provide technical assistance to landowners, and
Promote environmental education.
Since 1992, the Service has provided technical and financial assistance to Arizona landowners who voluntarily want to increase the value of their lands as wildlife habitat. Up to $25,000 is available for each Partners project selected; it is possible to receive more than this amount for outstanding projects. Landowners are reimbursed for costs they incur while implementing an approved project (i.e., the landowner pays for the materials, labor, and other project expenses and submits receipts to the Service for reimbursement). Most landowners contribute to the total project costs in the form of in-kind services and/or cash. Contributions by landowners are encouraged and taken into consideration when the Service selects projects for funding.
Habitat restoration and enhancement projects may include, but are not limited to, installing fencing along riparian areas to exclude livestock; rehabilitating in-stream aquatic habitats; restoring wetland hydrology; removing nonnative plants; planting native grasslands; and planting native trees, shrubs, and other plants to provide food and shelter for fish and wildlife in degraded habitats. To see the types of projects that have been implemented in Arizona, see Project Types.
Program benefits for landowners include protecting or restoring sustainable populations of native fish, wildlife, and plants; improving water quality and watershed health; reducing nonpoint source pollution; providing refugium for listed species; and increasing the knowledge of nature with outdoor classrooms.