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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228


October 6, 2006

Contact: Matt Kales, 303-236-4576


On Tuesday, October 3, President Bush signed the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act into law to enhance efforts of private landowners to protect species and restore habitat. The Partners Act provides a Congressional authorization for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, a successful private-lands conservation program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that is popular with landowners and conservationists alike.

The law authorizes the Department of the Interior, through the Partners Program, to provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners to restore, enhance, and manage private lands to improve fish and wildlife habitats.

"This law formalizes a program that exemplifies cooperative conservation," said Department of the Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. "The program puts financial and technical resources into the hands of willing landowners to help them manage their lands for imperiled plant and animal species. Next year we will celebrate the program's 20th year. The law represents a perfect anniversary gift for this conservation success story."

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife program is a cornerstone in the Service's cooperative conservation efforts - working with private landowners to restore valuable habitat for fish and wildlife. Since the creation of the Program in 1987, it has helped conserve fish and wildlife resources on nearly 800,000 acres of wetlands, 2,000,000 acres of uplands, and 7,000 miles of riparian and stream habitats through nearly 40,000 formalized partnership agreements.

In the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region, which includes Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, the Partners program has worked with more than 12,500 landowners in the past 8 years.  The program has achieved significant results, restoring 164,000 acres of wetlands, 1,664,000 acres of uplands, and 1,898 miles of riparian and stream habitats.  In addition, the regional Partners program has helped foster several landscape level community-based conservation partnerships.  These community-based partnerships are effective at conserving habitat for high priority fish and wildlife species and also promote sustainable agriculture and the preservation of traditional economies.  In addition to working with many private landowners, Partners program in the Mountain-Prairie region enjoys strong working relationships with many organizations and agencies, such as The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Land Management, and state fish and wildlife agencies.

“Passage of the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act will enhance the efforts of the Service’s already highly-effective partners program in the Mountain-Prairie Region,” said Mitch King, Regional Director.  “From northwestern Montana to southeastern Kansas, private landowners in this region have demonstrated a willingness to conserve wildlife habitat on their land.  This law provides the Service with additional tools and resources to help these local stewards ensure the long-term health of the land.”

In August 2004, President Bush signed an Executive Order on Cooperative Conservation asking all agencies to strengthen their efforts to work together and with Tribes, states, local governments, and landowners to achieve conservation goals. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act affirms the Fish and Wildlife Service's dedication to cooperative conservation and its commitment to work with private landowners to further the country's conservation goals while honoring individual rights. This new law will provide stability, highlight the successes of private partnerships and habitat conservation, and recognize the importance of the Partners Program.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.



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