Celebrating 30 Years of Partnership and Conservation Action

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (known as the Partners Program) is a voluntary private lands habitat restoration program. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Partners Program got its start assisting with the implementation of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, similarly to the Joint Ventures. Today, the Partners Program continues to provide private landowners with technical and financial assistance to support fish and wildlife habitats, sustainable agriculture, and rural communities.

"This 30th anniversary celebration gives us a chance to thank all of our wonderful landowner cooperators, and our shared partners, for all the great work we have accomplished together,” said Heather Johnson, Mountain-Prairie Regional Coordinator for the Partners Program. “Hats off to the awesome families that have made the Partners Program so successful over the years.  We are looking forward to the wonderful opportunities to work together in the years to come."

This program’s foundation is that working lands are essential to conservation and sustaining healthy populations of fish and wildlife resources. Some examples of Partners Program projects that fulfill this mission include developing alternative water sources, fencing, grass seeding, wetland restoration, invasive species control, riparian/stream restoration, and other voluntary conservation practices. The Partners Program is a cost-share program, rather than a grants program. Therefore, landowners need not submit requests for proposals or grant applications in order to receive financial or technical assistance on their ranch or farm.

In Wyoming's sagebrush country, for example, the Partners Program is working closely with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes to jointly work on habitat projects for tribal designated fish and wildlife species of cultural importance. The Tribes have identified an extensive number of culturally significant fish and wildlife species covering a broad spectrum of habitat types. With the Wind River Basin as a focus area, the USFWS Lander Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office staff has actively partnered with the tribes since the 1940s. The habitat improvement focus was elevated when in 1998 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the USFWS and Wind River tribes to jointly work on a variety of projects. Learn about some of these project here.

The Intermountain West Joint Venture teams with the Partners Program across our region by connecting public and private partners with needed resources like capacity. For example, the NRCS-led Sage Grouse Initiative’s Strategic Watershed Action Team is significantly supported by the Partners Program to get the boots-on-the-ground that enact sagebrush conservation. In addition, the landowner forums that the Partners Program facilitates are key venues for IWJV to engage with those living on the landscape and to learn what works for agricultural producers and wildlife.

Within the Mountain-Prairie Region, the Partners Program has worked with 19,311 private landowners to develop projects that benefit fish and wildlife species while also helping ranchers increase their bottom-line, ultimately sustaining the economic vitality of rural communities. For more information, check out the Partners Program’s impressive regional accomplishments and a summary of their new strategic plan.

Happy 30th anniversary, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, and best wishes for many more!