The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is the premier government agency dedicated to the conservation, protection, and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats.
We are the only agency in the federal government whose primary responsibility is the conservation and management
of these important natural resources for the American public.
The Service's origins date back to 1871 when Congress established the U. S. Fish Commission to study the decrease in the nation’s food fishes and recommend ways to reverse that decline.
Today, we are a diverse and largely decentralized organization, employing about 8,000 dedicated professionals working out of facilities across the country, including a headquarters office in Falls Church, Virginia, and eight regional offices representing the 12 Unified Interior Regions.
The National Infrastructure Partnerships initiative of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) encourages National Wildlife Refuge System field stations to partner with local, regional, and national nonprofit organizations, other land management groups, state and tribal partners, and others to accomplish projects that:
(i) promote the stewardship of resources of the refuge through habitat maintenance, restoration, and improvement, biological monitoring, or research; (ii) support the operation and maintenance of the refuge through constructing, operating, maintaining, or improving the facilities and services of the refuge; (iii) increase awareness and understanding of the refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System through the development, publication, or distribution of educational materials and products; (iv) advance education concerning the purposes of the refuge and the mission of the System through the use of the refuge as an outdoor classroom to combine educational curricula with the personal experiences of students relating to fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitat and to the cultural and historical resources of the refuges and development of other educational programs; (v) promote the understanding of, education relating to, and the conservation of the fish, wildlife, plants, and cultural and historical resources; (vi) improve scientific literacy.
The goals of the initiative are to enable local communities to play a more active role in increasing outdoor recreation opportunities on refuge lands and waters, to be more focused and deliberate in using partnerships to help the Service address infrastructure repair and improvement needs such as proactive maintenance and the maintenance backlog, and to enhance wildlife habitat.
This initiative will enable the Service to leverage funds and staff resources.
Additionally, this initiative can help address multiple Service priorities as a catalyst for:
• Economic and Conservation Enhancement • Career Training and Mentoring Opportunities for Youth and Adults • Equity and Inclusion in Conservation and Recreation • Climate and Wildlife Resilience • Community Health Successful projects will be research/assessments related to identified Service priorities or infrastructure projects at national wildlife refuges that enhance the visitor experience, promote wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation, provide sustainable wildlife habitat, provide career training and mentoring opportunities, and engage the community in special events and other opportunities to participate in wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation on Service lands and waters.
Fish and Wildlife Act – Community Partnership Enhancement Authority Overview Notwithstanding the Federal Grants and Cooperative Agreements Act, the Fish and Wildlife Act—Community partnership enhancement (16 U.S.C.
742f(d)) authorizes the Service to enter into cooperative agreements with non-Federal partner entities to implement projects or programs for a refuge or complex of geographically related refuges , including carrying out certain construction projects on refuge property.
For the purposes of this Act, projects include “constructing, operating, maintaining, or improving the facilities”.
However, there are several restrictions that apply to the special authority, including restrictions on partner administrative and operational costs and property ownership.
• This authority is only available to the National Wildlife Refuge System.
• Improvements become the property of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
• Federal funds may not exceed non-Federal matching funds.
• Per the Fish and Wildlife Act – Community Partnership Enhancement Authority, the Service cannot provide funding under this program for non-Federal entity operation or administration costs (i.e, indirect costs):
“(ii) Use of Federal funds - Any Federal funds used to fund a project or program under a cooperative agreement may be used only for expenses directly related to the project or program and may not be used for operation or administration of any non-Federal entity.”