Caves & Karst

Partners for Fish and Wildlife – Arkansas



Restoration, Enhancement, and Protection of Fish and Wildlife Habitat on Private Lands through Voluntary Conservation and Partnerships 



Program Overview

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.


Program Goals

br> 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.

Types of Projects Available  

Projects that receive the highest priority for funding are those that provide direct benefits to migratory birds, anadromous fish, and threatened and endangered species. Habitat restoration and enhancement projects may include, but are not limited to:
  • Bottomland hardwood forest restoration
  • Wetland hydrology restoration
  • Streambank stabilization and stream habitat restoration and enhancement
  • Moist-soil and herbaceous wetland restoration and enhancement
  • Riparian fencing to control livestock access and alternative water source construction 
  • Cave gates
  • Schoolyard habitats and outdoor classrooms
  • Invasive species control and eradication
  • Woodland restoration and enhancement
  • Glade restoration
  • Native grasses and prairie restoration

Habitats of Special Concern (Where we work):

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Arkansas assists in the restoration and conservation of all potential habitat for federal trust species, but the program concentrates on the these primary habitats of concern.

  • Forested (i.e., Bottomland hardwood) and herbaceous wetlands to benefit migratory birds.
  • Native prairie to benefit migratory birds and rare and declining invertebrates.
  • Pine and oak woodland and savannahs to benefit migratory and endangered birds and rare plant species.
  • Stream and riparian habitats with threatened, endangered, candidate, and at-risk species.
  • Karst or cave habitats with threatened and endangered bats and other rare cave organisms.
  • Glades to benefit migratory birds, rare plants and invertebrates.

General Program Guidelines and Requirements:

  • Participation is Voluntary
  • Projects must benefit federal trust resources (at-risk, threatened or endangered species, migratory birds, wetlands and native prairie habitats, or other declining species)
  • 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

Specific practices associated with restoration of these habitats include, but are not limited to:

  • Site preparation and planting tree seedlings, dirt moving to restore wetland hydrology or create moist soil or herbaceous wetlands
  • Native grass establishment, restoration of fire regime
  • Reestablishment of native species, selective thinning to reduce density and promote understory development, prescribed fire, control of shrub and midstory in red-cockaded woodpecker habitats
  • Establishment and restoration of riparian forested corridor
  • Livestock exclusion fencing & alternate water construction
  • Construction of cave gates
  • Streambank stabilization
  • Water control structure installation


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.


Partners and Partnerships
The cornerstone of the Partners Program is partnerships.  By working together with not only landowners, but with state agencies, local governments, non-governmental conservation organizations, schools, and other entities, Partners biologists are able to leverage resources and expertise to maximize and extend available funding and achieve tangible results for the landowner and the resource. 

Past and current partners include:

Arkansas Conservation Districts
Arkansas Forestry Commission
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission
Arkansas State University
ARKLATX Operating Co., Inc.
Audubon Arkansas
Central Arkansas Water
City of Clinton
City of Stuttgart
Des Arc Elementary School
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Gates Rogers Foundation
Mississippi River Trust
Private Industry
Private Landowners (over 200)
The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas
University of Arkansas - Pine Bluff
USDA Farm Service Agency
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Other Links

Bayou Bartholomew Alliance
Environmental Protection Agency
US Army Corps of Engineers
Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality
Fish America Foundation
NRCS Local Service Centers


  • National Program Page
  • Region 4 Program Page
  • Arkansas Fact Sheet (Add Attachment)
  • Arkansas PFW brochure (Add Attachment)
  • Arkansas Strategic Plan  (Add Attachment)
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Farm Bill Fact Sheet
  • PFW/EQIP Practices Fact Sheet
  • Link to contracting websites (DUN & Bradstreet, SAM, ASAP



Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Arkansas Focus Areas 2012-2016



Habitat Restoration Projects/Accomplishments/Pictures

  1. Since 1988, over 220 Partners for Fish and Wildlife projects have restored, enhanced, or protected fish and wildlife habitat on private lands.
  2. The Partners program has carried out restoration, enhancement, and protection activities on over 40,000 acres. 
  3. More than 45 water control structures have been installed to improve habitat for wetland associated species.
  4. 50 miles of riparian habitat have been restored and 1 mile fenced.
  5. Over 28,000 acres of bottomland hardwood trees have been planted, totaling over 8 million trees.
  6. 2 educational and 2 recreational facilities are using restored wildlife habitat as an outdoor classroom.


Farm Bill Conservation Programs

Every five years, Congress passes a bundle of legislation, commonly called the “Farm Bill that sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy.  The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) are the primary agencies responsible for administering and implementing Farm Bill Conservation Programs on private lands.  The USDA Forest Service also has some private lands responsibilities under the Farm Bill.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program provides technical assistance to NRCS and assists private landowners with the conservation programs offered through the Farm Bill.  Other partners including conservation districts, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Forestry Commission and various non-government organizations collaborate with FSA and NRCS on their programs and practices. 

Farm Bill Conservation Programs for Private Landowners are:

c.            NRCS Field Office Technical Guide



The System for Award Management (SAM) is online.  SAM replaces CCR/FedReg, ORCA, and EPLS.  If you have been using those systems, you should now go to to find your information. Training tools are available on the SAM website to help you get familiar with SAM. Start by going to, and then click on the SAM HELP tab.

PLEASE NOTE: SAM is completely free of charge for both registrants and users.  If you had an active record in CCR, you have an active record in SAM. Unless a change in your business circumstances requires a change in order for you to be paid or to receive an award, you should not have to update your record until October 15 or later. SAM will send notifications to the registered user via email 60, 30, and 15 days prior to expiration of the record. You can search for registered entities by going to and typing the DUNS number or business name into the search box.

    • Automated Standard Application for Payments (ASAP) website:


Arkansas Partners for Fish and Wildlife Staff

State Coordinator:  Joseph Krystofik
Arkansas Field Office
110 South Amity Road, Suite 300
Conway, AR  72021
Telephone: 501-513-4479
Fax: 501-513-4480

Private Lands Biologist:  Jon Wessman
AR-LA Migratory Bird Field Office
215 West Front Street
Lonoke, AR  72086
Telephone: 501-676-3122
Fax: 501-676-3305

Private Lands Biologist:  Michael Budd
Overflow National Wildlife Refuge
3858 Highway 8 East
Parkdale, AR  71661
Telephone: 870-473-2869
Fax: 870-473-5191

Farm Bill Biologist:  Christina Hacker
Arkansas Field Office
110 South Amity Road, Suite 300
Conway, AR  72021
Telephone: 501-513-4477
Fax: 501-513-4480


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Partners for Fish and Wildlife?

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife program is a voluntary cost share program that restores, improves, and protects fish and wildlife habitat on private lands through alliances between the US Fish and Wildlife Service, other organizations, and individuals, while leaving the land in private ownership.

  • Can I be a partner?

Anyone interested in restoring and protecting wildlife habitat on private or tribal lands can be a partner.  Our partners include private landowners, local and county agencies, municipalities, Native American Tribes, private/non-profit organizations, corporations, schools, and others. 

  • Are my lands eligible for restoration or enhancement under the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program?

Any privately-owned land is potentially eligible for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Federal and State owned lands are not eligible.

  • Who does the restoration?

 There are three options for completing restoration:
1) The landowner restores the land or hires a contractor and is reimbursed directly for some or all expenses;
2) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) hires a contractor to do the work; or
3) Service employees can assist with on-the-ground work. (e.g., tree planting).

  • What is the cost share rate?

The national goal is to achieve a cost share rate of 50 percent; however, the Service could provide up to 100 percent of the cost under special circumstances.   In-kind services, such as labor, equipment use, and materials, can qualify as cost share, as well as landowner funds.  The Partners Program works with other Federal, State, and local agencies, and private/non-profit organizations, whenever possible to leverage funding and in-kind assistance. Frequently, these partnerships result in more restoration activities and more acres or miles improved per project.

  • What is a Wildlife Cooperative Extension Agreement?

 Before beginning a habitat improvement project, the Service and the individual landowner (Cooperator) must sign a Wildlife Cooperative Extension Agreement (WCEA).  This WCEA states that the landowner will not return the project area to its former use, or alter or remove any project components (e.g., native vegetation, fences) for the specified term of the agreement.  The term of the WCEA is a minimum of 10 years.  If the Cooperator wants to cancel the agreement, then he or she must reimburse the Service, on a pro-rated basis, for the Service funds expended on the project.  

  • How do I receive the money for the project?

Cooperators on Partners for Fish and Wildlife projects may be reimbursed projects for authorized expenses by one of two ways. If the cooperator has enrolled in the Service’s automated payment system (ASAP) he or she may draw project funds as needed.  If not enrolled, the cooperator submits receipts and an request for reimbursement to the Project Manager and the funds are electronically deposited into an account authorized by the Cooperator/Recipient. 

  • How does the Service decide which projects are highest priority?

The Service focuses on projects in ecosystems and watersheds where conservation efforts will provide the greatest benefit for Federal trust species, such as migratory birds, declining species, and Federal and State listed threatened, endangered, and candidate species. Five geographical areas within the State have been identified to receive priority ranking for well-qualified projects (See map).  The Service also gives special consideration to projects that:
1) Are on permanently protected private lands;
2) Are identified as high priority by State fish and wildlife agencies, Tribes, and other partners;
3) Are located near National Wildlife Refuges;
4) Reduce habitat fragmentation;
5) Conserve or restore natural communities that the State Natural Heritage Programs or Heritage Data Bases have designated as globally or nationally imperiled;
6) Are self-sustaining systems that are not dependent on artificial structures; and/or
7) Help to educate the public on ecosystems and their species.

  • If my property is not within the focus areas should I still apply?

YES, we will always consider all well-qualified habitat improvement projects throughout the State, especially projects that have exceptional benefits for Federal trust species.

  • What other issues must I consider or permits do I need when deciding to restore or enhance fish and/or wildlife habitat on my land?

A Partners biologist can help you determine what type of permits and clearances might be required for your potential project.  If you receive funding from the Partners Program, you must obtain all required Federal, State, or local permits prior to beginning work on the project.

  • When will the work be started?

You must receive a final copy of your Wildlife Cooperative Extension Agreement, signed by both you, the landowner (Cooperator/Recipient), and by the Service before you can begin work on the project.  If you incur any project-related expenses before you have an agreement signed by the Service, you cannot be reimbursed for those expenses by the Service.  Our staff will provide guidance to you for all necessary forms and procedures.

  • When must work start and be completed?

Cooperators/Recipients are required to begin the project within the time frame defined in the agreement. The time can be extended for justifiable delays by modifying the agreement.

  • If I sign an agreement do I have to allow public access on my land?

No. Restoring habitat with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program does not mean that you have to allow public access on your land. Service employees occasionally need access to the project area to check on its progress and monitor its success. We will contact you to arrange these visits.

  • How do I become a partner?

Contact the Partners Program staff for proposal guidance.  Project proposals may be submitted throughout the year. The Partners Program generally receives funding once each year. We make funding decisions when complete proposals are received and evaluated, based on available funding at that time. We are available to answer questions, discuss potential projects, provide technical assistance, visit your property, and help develop a complete project design for funding consideration.

Arkansas Field Office
110 S. Amity Road
Suite 300
Conway, AR 72032

501/513 4470 (v)
501/513 4480 (f)

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