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Wood ducks are now a common species found on the restored Hess Family property. Photo courtesy of Charles St. Charles.

Wood ducks are now a common species found on the restored Hess Family property. Photo courtesy of Charles St. Charles.

Partners Program reaches a milestone:
30 years of working with others

Tick, tock – time flies. Thirty years of service marks a milestone in a biologist’s career, but what happens when a program reaches that same 30-year milestone? As the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program closes out its 30th year we can look with pride at our accomplishments – habitats improved, wildlife returned, partnerships formed, and dollars leveraged. We can reflect on how we have been strategic yet flexible in our delivery of conservation, and able to respond to shifting initiatives, priorities and funding sources. The bottom line, however, is that the Partners Program is about relationships among people -- our staffs and the landowners and partners they have touched. It is in the start of the Service mission, working with others, that we’ve built the strength and legacy of our program. Finding common ground with others has allowed us to voluntarily conserve and improve habitat on private lands for 30 years.
 
In Michigan, we asked landowners we have worked with to help us tell a story of the Partners Program. They spoke of improvement to the land and wildlife response, recreational value and a legacy for the future. And they spoke of a relationship with “their” Partners biologist; someone from the government willing and available to offer help!
 
We share highlights of some of their stories, in their own words and with their own photos.

Bob Hess with a local fire department volunteer after a prescribed fire to manage the restored grassland. Photo courtesy of Roger Peel.

Bob Hess with a local fire department volunteer after a prescribed fire to manage the restored grassland. Photo courtesy of Roger Peel.

Habitat and Wildlife Improvement

I am pleased to have this opportunity to thank you and your staff and the Partner’s program for helping our family achieve a major goal in our land ownership - to manage land for wildlife. The technical knowledge and land management skills of your biologist Gib King with the assistance of the Partner’s financial cost-share has made it possible for us to significantly improve and diversify our lands’ wildlife habitat. These changes have made our property more productive for wildlife both in numbers and in its species richness.

-- Bob Hess, Lake County, Michigan

Recreational hunting of deer is now possible for Mike and Rob Goodwin due to restoration efforts by the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Photo courtesy of Mike Goodwin.

Recreational hunting of deer is now possible for Mike and Rob Goodwin due to restoration efforts by the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Photo courtesy of Mike Goodwin.

Recreational Value

“The wealth of knowledge that was shared by your biologist, the work performed by staff and the financial assistance provided through the program has provided us the opportunities to be more successful in our hunting experiences. These experiences have been shared by many generations and we hope by many more to come. Please know that you share in our successes by offering your knowledge, talents and financial partnership through such a wonderful program that helps sustain wildlife through habitat management.”

-- Mike and Rob Goodwin, Clinton County, Michigan

Bob post and his family enjoy watching wildlife in their restored marsh. Photo courtesy of Bob Post.

Bob post and his family enjoy watching wildlife in their restored marsh. Photo courtesy of Bob Post.

Legacy

“I would like to say that partnering with f&w has been very rewarding. Thanks to the work done on my property, there has been a substantial increase in waterfowl. Because of the ability to control water level, I have been able to establish a wild rice bed. My grandchildren and I have spent many hours together in the marsh watching all sorts of wildlife. I hope this program is able to continue for years to come.

-- Bob Post, Allegan, Michigan

Carol Wilson and Neil Cole’s grandchildren enjoy being outdoors due to restoration efforts of the Partners Program. Photo courtesy of Carol Wilson and Neil Cole.

Carol Wilson and Neil Cole’s grandchildren enjoy being outdoors due to restoration efforts of the Partners Program. Photo courtesy of Carol Wilson and Neil Cole.

Biological Expertise

“After a bit of research we realized that the cost of restoring the land was far greater than we imagined. We also realized that restoration is most effective with in-depth knowledge and experience with the process which we did not have.  We contacted the Fish and Wildlife Service to help us achieve our goal. In just a matter of two years Meri Bryant has transformed the field from a monoculture of soy to a vibrantly diverse meadow filled with native forbs and sedges. We could not be more pleased with the restoration project and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.  Meri deserves great praise for the work she’s doing.  The future of the environment is dependent on programs like this one. Thank-you!”

-- Carol Wilson and Neil Cole, Washtenaw County, Michigan

By Jim Hudgins
Michigan Private Lands Office

BASOM

The Basom project provides both wetland and grassland habitat for a variety of wildlife. Photo by USFWS.

The Basom project provides both wetland and grassland habitat for a variety of wildlife. Photo by USFWS.

We can’t say enough good things about Gib King, the wildlife biologist who designed and essentially secured both the local contractor and cost share funding for the project. Our wetland restoration project not only met, but actually exceeded our expectations for building a home for waterfowl, upland birds and white-tailed deer.

-- Bruce and Diane Basom, Montcalm County, Michigan

BEYER

Conservation Resource Alliance staff and Service biologist look at the improved stream crossing completed by Conservation Resource Alliance and partners including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The project helped improve brook trout habitat. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Conservation Resource Alliance staff and Service biologist look at the improved stream crossing completed by Conservation Resource Alliance and partners including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The project helped improve brook trout habitat. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

At Conservation Resource Alliance we have found the Partners Program to be very important, helping to engage landowners as partners in our efforts to restore large-scale connected habitat in the northern Great Lakes!

--Amy S. Beyer, Director, Conservation Resource Alliance

BRADBURN

The Bradburn restored wetland provides wildlife habitat and helps improve water quality. Photo courtesy of John Bradburn.

The Bradburn restored wetland provides wildlife habitat and helps improve water quality. Photo courtesy of John Bradburn.

Our job, as I see it, is to help waterfowl along and that is why I worked with Tom [Eitniear] to build this wetland. Since it was built, it has been the host of thousands of migrating waterfowl and mammals. Another ecological attribute to the wetland is that it serves as an excellent surface and storm water filter for 100 acres that, after passing through the wetland, drains into Thread Creek, a beautiful local stream.

--John Bradburn, Genesee County, Michigan

BROUWER

Mr. Brouwer standing with two pheasants. The restoration project has improved grassland habitat providing better pheasant hunting opportunities for landowner Mr. Brouwer.  Photo courtesy of Lynn Brouwer.

Mr. Brouwer standing with two pheasants. The restoration project has improved grassland habitat providing better pheasant hunting opportunities for landowner Mr. Brouwer. Photo courtesy of Lynn Brouwer.

I have enjoyed working with Gib King. He has been a tremendous help to me in these projects.

--Lynn Brouwer, Ottawa County, Michigan

COOLEY

Landowner Tom Cooley checks for evidence of a successful hatch of wood ducks from a nest box adjacent to a restored wetland. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Landowner Tom Cooley checks for evidence of a successful hatch of wood ducks from a nest box adjacent to a restored wetland. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Being involved with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program allowed for the establishment of two wetland sites on my property that otherwise would not have been able to be reclaimed and I am grateful to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their willingness to put in the time, effort and funding to reclaim these wetland areas. Every year we’ve reared wood duck broods on our two restored wetlands.

--Tom Cooley, Ingham County, Michigan

COURIER

Canada geese successfully nested adjacent to a restored wetland on Jerry Courier’s property. Photo courtesy of Jerry Courier.

Canada geese successfully nested adjacent to a restored wetland on Jerry Courier’s property. Photo courtesy of Jerry Courier.

The project worked out quite well. I am very happy with the project that Michelle [Vander Haar] engineered.

--Jerry Courier, Arenac County, Michigan

D’HULSTER

Dave D’Hulster and his hunting dog sitting adjacent to the restored wetlands on his property.   Photo courtesy of Dave D’Hulster.

Dave D’Hulster and his hunting dog sitting adjacent to the restored wetlands on his property.   Photo courtesy of Dave D’Hulster.

Our restored wetlands are a great asset to our water dog training program. The best way to describe the value of our wetland projects is with a quote from a neighbor. In his words, we have changed the neighborhood!

--Dave D’Hulster, St. Clair County, Michigan

DUBENSKY

A young hunter enjoys the opportunity to hunt teal on the Dubensky restored wetland. Photo courtesy of Tom Dubensky.

A young hunter enjoys the opportunity to hunt teal on the Dubensky restored wetland. Photo courtesy of Tom Dubensky.

I purchased the property primarily as hunting and recreational land for my family, and these projects have greatly increased our enjoyment of the property. The increase in ducks and geese has been noticeable, and the non-game species has been dramatic. I have got to watch my children have their first duck hunts, deer hunts and work to improve the wildlife habitat.

-- Tom Dubensky, Osceola County, Michigan

FULLER

Biologists search for Mitchell’s satyr (inset) in a restored fen. Photos courtesy of Nate Fuller.

Biologists search for Mitchell’s satyr (inset) in a restored fen. Photos courtesy of Nate Fuller.

The Partners program has provided invaluable support in maintaining and restoring endangered species habitat in southwest Michigan – their funding has helped Mitchell’s satyrs and eastern massasaugas more than any other program with which Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy has worked.

--Nate Fuller, Conservation & Stewardship Director, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy

GRIMM

Grimm’s two grandsons standing in front of the restored wetland with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program sign. Photo courtesy of Fern Grimm.

Grimm’s two grandsons standing in front of the restored wetland with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program sign. Photo courtesy of Fern Grimm.

Jim Hazelman is the “face” of the Fish and Wildlife Service to me. I’m 72 yrs. old, and this was a pretty big undertaking for me, but Jim just reassured me. Jim is a real “people” person - the epitome of a public servant. “Thank you, Fish and Wildlife Service, for all the fun we have trying to catch frogs in Grandma’s new pond!”

--Fern Grimm, Hillsdale County, Michigan

HAMILTON

Landowner Mary Hamilton proudly stands in her restored field full of native grasses and wildflowers. Photo courtesy of Mary Hamilton.

Landowner Mary Hamilton proudly stands in her restored field full of native grasses and wildflowers. Photo courtesy of Mary Hamilton.

Showing off my project to all my friends. You’ve been a guiding energy for me, Meri [Bryant].  Thanx

--Mary Hamilton, Kalamazoo County, Michigan

LAMIER

Steve and Rebecca Lamier stand with Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program biologist Jim Hazelman by a restored wetland.  Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Steve and Rebecca Lamier stand with Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program biologist Jim Hazelman by a restored wetland.  Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Ultimately, this is about good stewardship – leave it better than you found it!

--Steve and Rebecca Lamier, Hillsdale County, Michigan

MACLENNAN

An excavator is at work during the early stages of the MacLennan’s wetland restoration. Photo by USFWS.

An excavator is at work during the early stages of the MacLennan’s wetland restoration. Photo by USFWS.

Thank you so much for your help in developing our “pond”. The pond has so much wildlife around it, it is amazing. We see deer, ducks, geese, swans, frogs, muskrats and a huge snapping turtle.

--Rod MacLennan, Hillsdale County, Michigan

MACNELLIS

Large oaks stand out in this early stage of a savanna restoration. Photo courtesy of Paul MacNellis.
 

Large oaks stand out in this early stage of a savanna restoration. Photo courtesy of Paul MacNellis.  

My experience and observations from working in fragmented preserves and conservation easement areas has made me hopeful that every piece no matter how small will give value to the overall system that even though fragmented will contribute to the whole as plant, bugs and animals seem to adapt somewhat in these challenging conditions.

--Paul MacNellis, Kalamazoo County, Michigan

MOEGGENBORG

Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program biologist Michelle Vander Haar stand next to landowner Joe Moeggenborg at a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funded wetland restoration project. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program biologist Michelle Vander Haar stand next to landowner Joe Moeggenborg at a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funded wetland restoration project. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

We love the variety of wildlife that the wetland project has brought to our property.  We’ve really enjoyed it!

--Joe Moeggenborg, Isabella County, Michigan

MORFORD

Restored wetland on the Morford property. Photo by USFWS.

Restored wetland on the Morford property. Photo by USFWS.

All you have done here has worked out well for us! Every spring we see ducks and geese raising their young.

--Jim Morford, Isabella County, Michigan

MORMAN

Bob and Sharon Morman stand in front of their wetland with binoculars to enjoy birding around their restored wetland. Photo courtesy of Bob Morman.

Bob and Sharon Morman stand in front of their wetland with binoculars to enjoy birding around their restored wetland. Photo courtesy of Bob Morman.

It is our personal conviction to enhance bird and wildlife habitat using every means available to us.

--Bob and Sharon Morman, Mason County, Michigan

OGAR

Saginaw Bay partnership tour with Congressman Dan Kildee (second from right) and other distinguished guests stand in front of Saginaw Bay. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Saginaw Bay partnership tour with Congressman Dan Kildee (second from right) and other distinguished guests stand in front of Saginaw Bay. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Through partnerships we’ve been able to demonstrate here in Saginaw Bay that invasive species truly can be controlled and managed. (Partnership tour with Congressman Dan Kildee and other distinguished guests)

--Laura Ogar, Environmental Affairs and Community Development Director, Bay County, Michigan

PATTERSON

High school students pause after planting their second wildflower garden for monarchs and other pollinators. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

High school students pause after planting their second wildflower garden for monarchs and other pollinators. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Our butterfly gardens are small in size, but they provide a tremendous opportunity to educate students, their parents, and the community about the plight of the monarch and how we all can pitch in.   With all of the environmental challenges we face it is crucial we create, maintain and educate others on the importance of diversity in ecosystems.  Without it ecosystem services and resilience are diminished which affects everyone's lives.

--Chip Patterson, Hillsdale County, Michigan

PRINCE

Landowner Bill Prince and Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program biologist Jim Hazelman reflect on the habitat improvements that they have accomplished together over many years. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Landowner Bill Prince and Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program biologist Jim Hazelman reflect on the habitat improvements that they have accomplished together over many years. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Basically I wanted to make the land right again. Working through the Partners Program really helped me along the way.

--Bill Prince, Hillsdale County, Michigan

ROSE

Brook trout have responded in a positive way to habitat improvements in the Upper Black River watershed. Photo courtesy of Carol Rose.

Brook trout have responded in a positive way to habitat improvements in the Upper Black River watershed. Photo courtesy of Carol Rose.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been a critical partner of the Upper Black River Council since shortly after our inception in 1993. For decades, the only river in lower Michigan exclusively managed for its naturally-reproducing brook trout fishery has been the beneficiary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.

--Carol Rose, Chair, Upper Black River Council

SHAW

Local contractor uses a bull dozer to move soil to restore a wetland. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.
 

Local contractor uses a bull dozer to move soil to restore a wetland. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.  

As a small business owner, working with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has been very rewarding; I like the sense of accomplishment that comes from restoring wetlands.

--Ken Shaw, Hillsdale County, Michigan

VERMAAT

Jamey Vermaat’s children enjoyed hunting opportunities on their restored wetland. Photo courtesy of Jamey Vermaat.

Jamey Vermaat’s children enjoyed hunting opportunities on their restored wetland. Photo courtesy of Jamey Vermaat.

I’m amazed at the response from all kinds of wildlife. The grassland, the wetlands, this project overall has exceeded all of my expectations. My wife and I have established and protected something where our kids, and, hopefully, someday their kids, can play and experience nature up close.

--Jamey Vermaat, Osceola County, Michigan

WYCKOFF

Landowners Dawn and Steve Wyckoff stand in their restored prairie. Photo courtesy of Steve Wyckoff.

Landowners Dawn and Steve Wyckoff stand in their restored prairie. Photo courtesy of Steve Wyckoff.

The grasses and forbs have given us wonderful moments in wildlife conservation, providing a home for rabbits, voles, mice, fox, coyotes, red-wing blackbirds along the edges, bluebirds, robins, a variety of finches and, at one time, ringed-neck pheasants, bobolinks and meadowlarks.

-- Steve and Dawn Wyckoff, Montcalm, County, Michigan

YMCA

YMCA campers enjoy experiencing a restored prairie.  Photo courtesy of YMCA.
 

YMCA campers enjoy experiencing a restored prairie.  Photo courtesy of YMCA.  

Thank you U.S. Fish and Wildlife for your contributions to make our camp more educational, environmentally friendly and memory making! Congratulations on your thirty year anniversary! We are a better place because of our partnership.

-- Becky Spencer, YMCA Storer Camps, Jackson County, Michigan

ZBICIAK

Zbiciak stands in front of a restored wetland. Photo courtesy of Rob Zbiciak.

Zbiciak stands in front of a restored wetland. Photo courtesy of Rob Zbiciak.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has an excellent working relationship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Partners Program is my “go to” recommendation when discussing potential wetland restoration opportunities with landowners.

-- Robert Zbiciak, Wetland Restoration Coordinator, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Last updated: December 14, 2017