Newsroom Midwest Region

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

December 7, 2017

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.

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.


Habitat and wildlife improvement

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.

“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 value

Recreational hunting is now possible due to restoration efforts. Photo courtesy of Mike Goodwin.
Recreational hunting is now possible due to restoration efforts. Photo courtesy of Mike Goodwin.

“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


Legacy

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.

“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


Biological expertise

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.

“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