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Conservation Partners Sign Landmark Agreement to Restore Wildlife Habitat on Private Lands in Mississippi

July 17, 2006

Calvin Lunceford, 601/321-1133,
Connie Light Dickard, 601/941-6395 (cell)

A partnership of 21 federal and state agencies, conservation organizations and private companies is working to conserve fish and wildlife habitats on privately owned land. This group is called the Mississippi Partners for Fish and Wildlife.

“This kind of partnership is the wave of the future to leverage limited resources for the most benefit to our fish and wildlife resources across Mississippi,” said Sam D. Hamilton, regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Region in Atlanta. “This partnership promises to build upon the efforts many of the groups already have underway individually.”

With about two-thirds of our nation’s land in private ownership, landowners are important keepers of essential fish and wildlife habitat. As Aldo Leopold, the father of wildlife conservation, noted over 75 years ago, it is prudent that “… we recognize the landowner as the custodian of public game … and compensate … with cash, service or protection for the use of his land …” The Mississippi Partners for Fish and Wildlife are working to do some of those very things.

"I believe that this partnership agreement lays the groundwork for an effective process for all parties to leverage their limited project funds and technical assistance efforts for the voluntary conservation of fish and wildlife resources on private lands in Mississippi, “ said Ronnie Haynes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional coordinator for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Atlanta. “It is our hope that this cooperative partnership will serve as a working model for other states in the Southeast Region."

The Mississippi Partners for Fish and Wildlife are:

· Audubon Mississippi,
· Delta Wildlife Inc.,
· Ducks Unlimited Inc.,
· International Paper Company,
· Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce,
· Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality,
· Mississippi Department of Transportation,
· Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks,
· Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation,
· Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Mississippi Forestry Commission,
· Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission,
· Mississippi State University Extension Service,
· Mississippi Wildlife Federation,
· Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks Foundation,
· Mississippi Chapter - National Wild Turkey Federation,
· Natural Resource Conservation Service,
· Quail Unlimited,
· Tara Wildlife,
· U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and
· Weyerhaeuser Company.

Agencies, corporations and landowners who are interested in learning more about Mississippi Partners for Fish and Wildlife, and the projects that are being done, can contact Calvin Lunceford, coordinator for Mississippi Partners for Fish and Wildlife and private lands biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Mississippi Partners for Fish and Wildlife contact information is posted on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mississippi Field Office website at:

Many of the 21 partners started working together in February 2005 and finalized the memorandum of understanding in February 2006.

Examples of projects in specific habitat types include: bottomland hardwood reforestation and hydrological restoration in wetlands; prescribed burning and timber stand improvement in uplands; reestablishing flows in streams and establishing riparian buffers in aquatic habitats; reestablishing native grasses in the native prairie habitat; and reforestation of longleaf pine in suitable habitat.

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 546 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources 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 and Native American tribal 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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