Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Oklahomalast updated: February 2014

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program was initiated in Oklahoma in 1990. The Partners Program provides technical and financial assistance for the restoration and enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat on private lands, in cooperation with local governments and other entities including educational institutions. Initially the program targeted wetlands for restoration and enhancement work. The success of this landowner friendly program encouraged the Partners Program to expand into broader trust resource habitats.

Habitats of Special Concern
Oklahoma’s fish and wildlife habitat is very diverse. The habitats of greatest concern in Oklahoma in terms of Federal trust resources include floodplain wetlands, shallow water wetlands, native grasslands, upland forests, and caves. Partner’s projects have benefitted all of these habitats, including constructing gates on endangered bat caves on private lands to limit human disturbance.

Since the land runs of the late 1800's, Oklahoma’s vast prairies, wetlands, streams, and forests have been diminished or degraded by development and other human activities. Less than 15 percent of the original bottomland hardwoods remain today in scattered tracts in eastern Oklahoma. Over 70 percent of our original wetlands have been drained or filled. Dam construction and stream channelization also have contributed to wetland loss.  Nearly 70 percent of short and tall grass prairies have been loss or degraded due to agricultural development and fire suppression.  In addition, much of the native pine and hardwood forests of eastern Oklahoma has been lost or fragmented due to agricultural activities, timber harvest and conversion to pine monocultures.

The loss and alteration of these ecosystems have negatively affected many fish and wildlife species to the point of Federal listing. Twenty of Oklahoma’s species are federally-listed as threatened or endangered and an additional five are state-listed as threatened or endangered. Five species are candidates for Federal listing and 78 are listed in Oklahoma as species of special concern.  Ninety-five percent of the land in Oklahoma is under private ownership. The landowner friendly Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program is the ideal program to enhance, restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat on private lands for a broad array of species.

Conservation Strategies
Wetland habitat restoration, enhancement and creation on private lands has been a high priority for the Partners Program. Wetlands in Oklahoma provide important migrating, wintering, and breeding habitat for a variety of wildlife species, and are valuable for improving water quality, recharging groundwater supplies, and retarding soil erosion and flood damage. Restoring the hydrology of formerly drained or degraded wetlands has been the focus of most restoration projects. The cost of wetland restoration averages $500 per acre.

Streambank, Streambed and Riparian Areas
Sediment is one of the chief pollutants of stream systems in Oklahoma. Changes in land use, including increased pasture clearing, heavy grazing pressure, and other agricultural and development activities have all contributed to high stream sediment loads. These impacts affect fish, mussel, amphibian, and macroinvertebrate productivity. Streambank restoration involves grading eroding banks, stabilizing bare soil with erosion control mats and anchors, planting vegetation, and limiting livestock access. Streambed restoration projects have included removal of concrete crossings that block fish passage and installation of box-type structures to improve fish access to upstream habitat.

Costs for stream bank restoration are approximately $50 per foot.  Fish passage improvements range from $5,000 to $22,000 for each crossing.  Fencing riparian habitat is a very cost effective technique for protecting this habitat type. The cost for fencing is approximately $1.30 per foot.

Native grasslands provide essential habitat for many migrating, wintering and nesting bird species.  Only 30 percent of Oklahoma’s original prairies remain today.  The costs associated with grassland restoration include: reseeding at $56 per acre, prescribe burning at $4 per acre, and installation of grazing systems that allow a profitable yet wildlife friendly use of the land at $4 to $10 per acre.

Invasive Species
Eastern red cedar and saltcedar have increased dramatically in Oklahoma. The invasion of red cedar into the native upland plant communities changes habitat structure and composition which adversely affects native wildlife species. Many bird species, such as prairie chickens, turkeys and the endangered black-capped vireo have been negatively affected by this invasion.

Nearly all riverine and riparian habitats of western Oklahoma have been invaded by saltcedar. This plant out competes most of the native wetland plants that are important to wildlife species. Saltcedar also impacts the water levels in western streams and rivers due to the large amount of water the plants use each day. Cost for invasive species projects have ranged from $30 - $325/acre.

Outdoor Classrooms
Since 1993, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has been involved in developing Outdoor Environmental Classroom projects throughout Oklahoma. Seventy-five Outdoor Environmental Classrooms, with an emphasis on wetlands and endangered and threatened ecosystems, have been completed or are under development in Oklahoma.  Public interest and awareness of the environment, especially wetlands, is a growing human dimension issue. To successfully and appropriately educate young people on these resource issues, a "hands on," proactive and interactive Outdoor Classroom provides the ideal structured environment for learning. These projects simultaneously provide long-term educational opportunity, high value fish and wildlife habitat and help build understanding and support for conservation of our Nation's natural resources.  The Partners Program provides $5,000 per Outdoor Classroom project, which is used to leverage funds with many other sources. The total cost for these projects averages nearly $25,000 each.

Contact Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Oklahoma

Contact Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Oklahoma

Jontie Aldrich, John Hendrix or Terry Dupree
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
9014 East 21st Street
Tulsa, Oklahoma  74127
Phone: 918-382-4511
Fax: (918) 581-7467


Service Area

Statewide service provider in:
  • Oklahoma

Office Locaters

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