Senate Committee Approves Inhofe’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act

WASHINGTON--Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, celebrates as his Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act (S. 260) passed the Environment and Public Works Committee. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program is the primary program within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delivering habitat improvement projects on private land through voluntary agreements with private landowners. Inhofe’s legislation would authorize the program for the next five years (2006-2011) providing $75 million each year for increased funding for this proven habitat conservation program.

“Passing the Partners bill out of my committee takes us one step closer to securing funding for a habitat conservation program that has proven results in the state of Oklahoma,” Inhofe said. “After our Tulsa field hearing on this topic in late April, I received countless comments of support from constituents all across our state. All conservation programs should create positive incentives to protect species and, above all, should hold the rights of private landowners sacred. We have taken a positive step toward those aims with my committee’s passage of the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.”

Since 1987, through 35,039 agreements with private landowners, the Partners Program has accomplished the restoration of 722,500 acres of wetlands, 1,573,700 acres of prairie and native grasslands, and nearly 5,900 miles of riparian and in-stream habitat to date. In Oklahoma alone, the Partners Program has accomplished the restoration and conservation 24,285 acres of habitat through 700 individual voluntary agreements with private landowners.

The Partners Program has been a successful voluntary partnership program that helps private landowners restore hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands, prairie and native grasslands, riparian, and in-stream habitat throughout the country. This program has been particularly successful in Oklahoma. The program enjoys broad support in Oklahoma and throughout the country and represents a model conservation program.

Senator Inhofe’s bill will now awaits a vote by the full Senate that the Senator expects to occur in the near future.

Congressman John Sullivan (R-Tulsa) has introduced companion legislation in the House, HR 2018.