WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today received U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s ‘Legislator of the Year Award’ for his integral role in passing the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act, which was approved by Congress and signed into law in 2006. The Partners Program has been a successful voluntary partnership program that helps private landowners restore fish and wildlife habitats on their own lands. Sen. Inhofe’s bill secured statutory authority for the Partner’s Program for the first time and provided additional funding and added stability for the program.
“I am proud of the Partners Program’s success and I am honored to receive this award from U.S. Fish and Wildlife,” Inhofe said. “The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has already achieved proven results in habitat conservation throughout Oklahoma, while leveraging federal funds through voluntary private landowner participation. I look forward to continued success in our efforts to conserve and protect these important habitats.”
Since 1987, the Partners Program has been successful in helping private landowners restore fish and wildlife habitats on their lands. Through nearly 35,000 agreements with private landowners, the Partners Program has accomplished the restoration of 722,550 acres of wetlands, 1,573,700 acres of prairie and native grasslands, and 5,900 miles of riparian and in-stream habitat.
In Oklahoma, ninety-seven percent of land is held in private ownership. Since 1990, a total of 124,285 acres in Oklahoma have been restored through 700 individual Partners Program voluntary agreements with private landowners. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service District Office in Tulsa currently reports that at least another 100 private landowners are waiting to enter into Partner's projects as soon as funds become available. Since 1990, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided $3,511,121 to restore habitat in Oklahoma through the Partners Program, to which private landowners have contributed $12,638,272.