Partners for Fish and Wildlife offers technical and cost-share assistance to landowners who wish to restore wildlife habitat, including degraded or converted wetlands. The assistance provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can range from giving informal advice on the design and location of a potential restoration project, to designing a restoration project and funding up to 50 percent of the implementation cost under a formal cooperative agreement with the landowner. Projects may include, but are not limited to: restoring or enhancing wetland habitats, revegetating with native plants, or fencing riparian areas to exclude livestock.
The program focuses on the re-establishment of original natural communities. Projects given preference are those that will contribute to the survival of endangered, threatened, or candidate species, or migratory birds of management concern; will benefit important spawning grounds of anadromous fish; will contribute to achieving the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (see Joint Ventures p. 24); are located near to existing habitat, (by proximity encouraging recolonization by native plants and animals and reducing habitat fragmentation); will contribute to the restoration of globally or nationally imperiled natural communities; will result in a self-sustaining system that is not dependent on artificial structures; or will use native self-propagating species.
How the program works
The landowner contacts the Fish and Wildlife Service and an onsite visit is arranged to talk about the landowner's needs and ideas for the property. The FWS provides suggestions about project design and materials as appropriate. If cost-share assistance is requested, the landowner and Service staff work together to prepare a Habitat Restoration Proposal for the project, which is submitted to the FWS. If other considerations are roughly equal, agreements that are longer in duration will be selected over those of shorter duration, with ten years being the minimum length. Additionally, while it is far from essential, projects that propose drawing on other funding sources (such as the Natural Resource Conservation Service, California Department of Fish and Game, or Ducks Unlimited) may receive special consideration.
If the restoration plan is approved for cost-sharing, the landowner's contribution can be directly monetary or made in the form of in-kind services such as labor or materials. The landowner is responsible for obtaining water rights and any permits necessary for carrying out the project. A U.S. Army Corps (CORPS) of Engineer Nationwide Permit simplifies this process by ensuring that Partners for Fish and Wildlife projects are carried out in a manner consistent with the provisions of the Clean Water Act. Partners for Fish and Wildlife projects do not require individual Corps permits.
Nationwide. Funding for the program is on a year-to-year basis, based on the president's budget. In the past, cost-share programs such as Partners for Fish and Wildlife have been viewed favorably as an extremely cost-efficient use of public funds and have received consistent financial support. For more information, contact the FWS State Private Lands Coordinator at (916) 414-6446.