Washington, D.C.-Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, hailed the President’s signing of the “Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act.” The Partners Program has been a successful voluntary partnership program that helps private landowners restore fish and wildlife habitat on their own lands. The Inhofe bill offers statutory authority for the Partners Program for the first time and provides additional funding and added stability for the program. Congressman John Sullivan (R-Tulsa) introduced companion legislation, HR 2018 that passed the House last month.
“I am proud that the President signed into law today my legislation that creates positive incentives to protect species and, above all, holds sacred the rights of private landowners,” Senator 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.”
Since 1987, the Partners Program has been successful in helping private landowners restore fish and wildlife habitats on their own 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.