Kentucky Ecological Services Field Station
Southeast Region
Map of the Southeast Region

Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program

Blackside dace stream in Kentucky. Credit: USFWS

Blackside dace stream in Kentucky. Credit: USFWS

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (Partners) assists with the restoration and enhancement of every ecosystem in the Commonwealth of Kentucky that benefits federal trust species and other native habitats.  Federal trust species include threatened and endangered species and migratory birds (e.g. waterfowl, songbirds, shorebirds).  Kentucky has a tremendous diversity of unique plants, wildlife and native habitats, but many are imperiled and in need of conservation. 

Approximately 94% of Kentucky is privately owned, and without conservation efforts on private lands, our trust resources would simply not recover.  Many private landowners in Kentucky want to restore and conserve habitats for fish and wildlife resources, but often lack the financial support and technical knowledge necessary to accomplish this task.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, along with its other conservation partners, helps to satisfy this need by conserving, protecting and restoring quality fish and wildlife habitat for federal trust species on private lands.


How to Participate in the Partners Program in Kentucky:

1)     Interested landowners or other parties should contact a Partners for Fish and Wildlife Restoration Biologist to discuss the proposed project and possibly establish a site visit.  In addition, the Partners program has designated focus areas within the state in which most restoration projects occur.

2)     A preliminary contact and/or site visit will be used to determine the type of project that could be conducted, and the scope of technical and financial assistance necessary.  A funding proposal will be developed as needed.

3)     If a Partners habitat restoration project is possible, a detailed work plan and funding estimate will be developed.  Partners funds are competitive and limited therefore, the work plan and funding proposal will be submitted to the Service’s Regional Ranking Team for ranking, then forwarded to the Service’s Regional Office in Atlanta.  The ranking teams are composed of various Service biologists throughout the southeast region of the United States.  In addition, other conservation partners funds may also be used to aid landowners (e.g. Farm Bill conservation funds).

4)     If funding is approved, the landowner and Service join together in a voluntary Wildlife Cooperative Extension Agreement.  As designated by federal law, all Partners projects must have a minimum 10-year agreement prior to implementation.  Many of the agreements are 15 years, especially if tree planting is involved. 

5)     After the Wildlife Cooperative Extension Agreement is developed, installation begins according to the work plan and as weather allows.  Other state and federal permits may have to be obtained for some projects (e.g. heavy earth moving).

6)     The Service reimburses the landowner after the project is completed and receipts and other documentation are submitted according to the Wildlife Cooperative Extension Agreement. 

7)     Follow-up monitoring visits are made every two years to monitor project success and progression.


General Program Guidelines and Requirements:

  • Projects must benefit federal trust resources (threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, wetland and native prairie habitats).
  • Minimum 10-year agreement.
  • A 50% cost share is required for the overall project.  Cost shares may include in-kind work, materials, and other conservation programs.
  • Voluntary participation.
  • Landowner does not forfeit any property rights and is not required to allow public access after habitat improvements are completed.
  • Projects are encouraged to leverage funding and provide cost share from various sources in addition to Partners funds.


Habitats of Special Concern:

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

1)     Stream and riparian habitats with threatened, endangered, candidate, and state rare species.

2)     Wetlands and bottomland hardwoods to benefit migratory birds.

3)    Native prairie, barren, woodland savannahs, and canebrakes to benefit migratory birds and rare plant species.

4)     Karst or cave habitats with threatened and endangered bats and other rare cave organisms.

5)     Oak/hickory, American chestnut and old growth forests to benefit migratory birds and rare plant species.


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

1)     Riparian forest corridor restoration.

2)     Livestock exclusion fencing & alternate water construction.

3)     Construction of cave gates.

4)     Native grass and forest establishment.

5)     Stream restoration & enhancement.

6)     Prairie restoration & enhancement.

7)    Wetland restoration & enhancement.

Within habitat groups, the Partners program concentrates its efforts in certain physiographic areas and watersheds to maximize funding and objectives.  Partners projects have been completed or are being conducted in these geographic focus areas.


Kentucky Partners for Fish and Wildlife Major Geographic Focus Areas:

Overview of Geographic Focus Areas:

Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program funds are concentrated in six major priority focus areas in Kentucky. The geographic focus areas were chosen because of the number of federal trust species and the ongoing effort to help recover species in those areas. These include, but are not limited to:

Upper Cumberland River Basin
Upper Green River Basin
Mississippi River Bayou Watersheds (includes Bayou du Chien, Terrepin, and Obion Creeks) watershed
Clark's River watershed
Licking River Basin
Pennyroyal - Highland Rim Prairie Karst Region (which includes the Big & Lapland Barrens and Trigg County Oak-Savannah focus areas)

There are other minor focus areas in the state in which habitat restoration projects also occur. All the major and minor areas have federal trust species present and are in need of habitat conservation.

Livingston Creek Watershed
Eagle Creek Watershed of Scott, Owen and Grant Counties
Madison and Clark Counties
Sturgeon Creek and the South Middle and North Fork watersheds of the Kentucky River Basin

Partners for Fish and Wildlife Focus Areas Map

NEW!! Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program Photo Gallery!


Partners for Fish and Wildlife - Dozer

View More Photos in the Partners Photo Gallery Page


Those who wish to participate in the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Kentucky should ……

Brent Harrel
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program Coordinator
Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office
John C. Watts Federal Building - Room 265
330 West Broadway, Frankfort, KY 40601
Frankfort, Kentucky
(502) 695-0468 x 104




Last updated: June 10, 2020
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