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New Report Finds U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Restoration Programs Create Jobs and Boost Local Economies

High return on investment through partnerships with landowners found for the “most progressive, common sense landowner program in the government today,” according to rancher

Arlington, VA | April 22, 2014

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released a report today detailing how its habitat restoration programs drive economic growth. The report, Restoration Returns: The Contribution of Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Coastal Program Projects to Local U.S. Economies, found that these programs generated a return of more than $15 and $12 for every federal dollar spent, respectively.

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Coastal Program created more than 3,900 jobs in Fiscal Year 2011, generating a total economic stimulus of $327.6 million.

“The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program is the most progressive, common sense landowner program in the government today,” said Jim Stone, a rancher in the Blackfoot Challenge and Chairman of the Partners for Conservation. “We have worked with this program since the inception and consider its contribution to our ranch as the reason we are still on the ground and able to pass this on to our son. If all programs would address partnerships through the trust and respect to landowners that the Partners Program does, we would find ourselves in a much stronger and sustainable working landscapes across this country. We are proud to ‘neighbor up’ with the USFWS and their Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program!”

“Working with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and groups like The Nature Conservancy helps individual ranchers and rural communities like mine address issues and realize our shared conservation visions,” stated Karl Rappold, a rancher on the Rocky Mountain Front.

“The incredible return on investment and economic power of habitat restoration work goes to show why it is smart and necessary to continue these programs with strong funding,” said The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Federal Lands Programs Christy Plumer. “Even beyond the economic benefit to communities and the nation, habitat restoration benefits all Americans by creating healthy lands and waters on private lands.”

Each year, USFWS completes more than 3,500 public-private partnership habitat restoration projects under the two programs. They leverage government funding to generate private sector investment, and that spending on restoration generates economic growth through job creation, contractor income, support services, indirect business taxes and labor force spending, according to USFWS.

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife program works with willing landowners to improve wildlife habitat. Landowners agree to maintain the improvement projects for at least 10 years, but otherwise retain full control of their land. According to a news release from USFWS, in Fiscal Year 2011:

  • $18.6 million was invested nationwide through the program, leveraging more than $142 million in private sector contributions, totaling $161 million in restoration spending.
  • When cycled through the economy, the projects generated more than $292 million for local economies, a return of $15.70 for every federal dollar spent.
  • More than 3,500 jobs were created from this program.

The Coastal Program works with communities and partners to undertake projects that protect and restore vital wildlife habitat, such as removing invasive species, replanting salt marsh and sea grasses, and installing living shorelines to prevent erosion. The USFWS notes that in Fiscal Year 2011:

  • $2.8 million was spent through the program on projects, leveraging that amount with more than $16 million in spending from project partners, totaling 19.2 million in project funds.
  • After cycling through the economy, these project funds provided $35.6 million in local economic stimulus, a return of $12.78 for every federal dollar spent.
  • More than 470 jobs were created from this program.


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

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Heather Layman

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