US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
About the Partners Program
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program’s (Partners Program) mission is to achieve voluntary habitat restoration on private lands for the benefit of Federal Trust Species. A Partners Program partnership is a voluntary agreement between a private landowner (any non-State or non-Federally owned land) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and its partners for financial and technical assistance toward achievement of an agreed upon restoration project. A cooperative agreement with a minimum 10 year term is signed for selected projects.
Partners Program funding is competitive and merit based. This is a reimbursement program, so the landowner must complete the conservation work prior to release of the cost-share funding. Examples of previous Partners Program projects include wetland enhancement and restoration, prescribed burning, brush management, and grassland restoration.
Partners Program Process
A Partners Program biologist will meet with the landowner to discuss the project and determine its feasibility. If the project is feasible, a project plan will be developed by the landowner and the Partners Program conservation partners. A Private Lands Agreement, which details the landowner and USFWS objectives, is reviewed and signed by the landowner. The project is then submitted for review and ranking against other Partners Program projects. If the project is selected, it will go through a final regional approval process with USFWS. After the landowner has received the final agreement, project construction may begin.
Partners Program History
The Partners Program was established in 1987 on a small scale to support wetland restoration on private lands. With the success of the program, it has expanded across the nation and over many critical habitat types. Partners of the Partners Program include NRCS, TPWD, Texas A&M Forest Service, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Environmental Defense Fund, and others. Through more than 1,600 partnerships with private landowners in Texas, 71,000 acres of wetlands, 7,000 acres of riparian habitat, and 380,000 acres of upland have been enhanced or restored by the Partners Program.
If you are interested in learning more or partnering with USFWS, you can call or write the Partners Program to initiate the process.