Partners for Fish and Wildlife – Arkansas
Restoration, Enhancement, and Protection of Fish and Wildlife Habitat on Private Lands through Voluntary Conservation and Partnerships
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s primary mechanism for delivering voluntary on-the-ground habitat improvement projects on private lands for the benefit of Federal trust species (migratory birds; at-risk species, threatened and endangered species; inter-jurisdictional fish; and other species of conservation concern, as well as important and imperiled habitats including wetlands, native prairie and rivers and streams). Biologists provide technical and financial assistance to landowners who want to restore and enhance fish and wildlife habitats on their property. It is the Service’s most popular and effective program for voluntary, citizen and community-based fish and wildlife habitat restoration activities. The cornerstone of the program is partnerships among individuals, agencies, organizations, and other interested parties.
The Partners Program is based on the premise that fish and wildlife conservation is a responsibility shared by citizens and their government. Our approach is to engage willing private landowners and other partners through non-regulatory incentives that conserve and protect valuable fish and wildlife habitat. We do this by providing technical and financial assistance and leveraging the funding support and in-kind assistance needed to make on-the-ground conservation affordable, feasible, and effective.
Partners for Fish and Wildlife projects may include improving habitat for species such as migratory birds, anadromous or migratory fish, endangered or threatened species, or any other declining or imperiled species.
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:
- Promote and 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 conservation leadership and promote partnerships using the Service's and other organizations' expertise.
- Conduct public outreach to broaden public understanding of fish and wildlife habitats while encouraging participation and demonstrating conservation efforts.
- Work with USDA to implement Farm Bill conservation programs.
General Program Guidelines and Requirements:
- Participation is Voluntary
- Projects must benefit federal trust resources.
- A 50% cost share is the goal for the overall project; however, up to 100% of project costs could be provided under certain limited conditions. Cost shares may include in-kind work, materials, and other conservation programs
- Landowner does not forfeit any property rights and is not required to allow public access after habitat improvements are completed
- Landowners may be eligible for and are encouraged to seek financial assistance from other groups (state agencies, conservation districts, or other entities and programs) to leverage funding to provide cost share in addition to Partners funds
- Eligible Landowners include individual private landowners, Native American Tribes, corporations, schools, counties, cities, and other groups. Projects on federal and state lands are not eligible
How to Participate in the Partners Program in Arkansas
- Interested landowners or other parties should contact a Partners for Fish and Wildlife Biologist to discuss the potential project and possibly schedule a site visit.
- During the site visit the biologist will determine if your site is suitable for habitat improvement, and the scope of technical and financial assistance needed. A funding proposal will be developed as needed.
- If a Partners habitat improvement project is possible an application and plan will be developed and submitted for funding. In addition, the biologist will help find other conservation partners or other sources of funding to help with the landowner’s portion of the cost.
- If funding is approved, the landowner and Service join together in a voluntary Wildlife Cooperative Extension Agreement. All Partners projects must have a minimum 10-year agreement prior to implementation; however, some may extend up to 25 years, especially if tree planting is involved.
- The landowner and the Service will work together to develop a project plan and secure any necessary federal or state permits. The project plan will be incorporated into a Wildlife Cooperative Extension Agreement (WCEA) between the landowner and the Service.
- There are two different types of WCEAs. One type is where the landowner performs the restoration work themselves or hires a contractor to perform the work, and then is reimbursed by the Service. This type may require the landowner to enroll in the Automated Standard Application for Payments (ASAP) system, where he or she may draw reimbursable funds directly via the internet. The other type is where the Service hires a contractor to perform part or all of the restoration work and the Service pays the contractor directly. For both types of WCEAs, the landowner may contribute part of the actual work or costs.
- Follow-up monitoring visits are made periodically to monitor project success and progression.