Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Louisiana

The partners for Fish and Wildlife Program is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s primary mechanism for delivering voluntary on-the-ground habitat improvement projects on private lands for the benefit of Federal trust species. Biologists provide technical and financial assistance to landowners who want to restore and enhance fish and wildlife habitats on their property. Partners for Fish and Wildlife projects may include improving habitat for species such as migratory birds, anadromous or migratory fish, endangered or threatened species, or any other declining or imperiled species.

Habitats of Special Concern
Louisiana has four major habitat types of special concern due to historical and/or current habitat losses: coastal marsh, bottomland hardwoods, prairie, and longleaf pine and associated savannahs. Louisiana has lost approximately 20 percent of its coastal marshes over the last century, and continues to lose approximately 24 square miles each year. The State has lost approximately 70 percent of its original bottomland hardwood forests, almost 90 percent of its longleaf pine communities, and 99.9 percent of its native prairies. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has identified many different ecoregions and terrestrial, aquatic, and marine sub-habitats within these four major habitat types as part of their Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. For more detailed information about these ecoregions and their representative habitats, browse the Departments web site.

Louisiana’s coastal marshes continue to be threatened by sediment deprivation (due to levees and upstream dams), erosion, subsidence, canal dredging, saltwater intrusion and other causes.

Bottomland hardwood habitats in the State are threatened by urban development and conversion to agriculture, while longleaf pine communities are at risk from development and conversion to other forest types. The few remnant prairies left in Louisiana continue to be degraded by exotic Chinese tallow-tree invasion and fire suppression. A regular regimen of prescribed fire is essential to maintain the prairie ecotype.

Conservation Strategies
Bottomland hardwood forests in Louisiana are being restored through the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Bottomland hardwood restoration consists of replanting overstory trees and a few understory species on primarily marginal cropland or pasture. A few Partners projects restored live oak and sugarberry cheniers, which are essentially bottomland hardwood islands in the coastal marshes. The typical Partners project involves the reestablishment of between 15 and 21 species of trees and shrubs at a cost of $110 to $150/acre.

Partners projects normally involve efforts to restore the original wetland hydrology on most sites, which typically includes filling drains, ditch plugging, installation of small levees and water control structures, and occasionally reconstructing wetland swales. Restoration costs can vary widely, but most efforts (in addition to filling drains) will cost between $100 to $300/acre.

Longleaf Pine and Prairies
A few longleaf pine and prairie sites are also being restored in Louisiana with Partners and USDA programs funds. Longleaf pine restoration consists of planting seedlings for $110 to $150/acre and maintaining a burning regimen to encourage reestablishment of native grasses.

In Louisiana, the most diverse habitat type is prairie. The remnant prairies have the richest assemblage of insects, grasses and wildflowers, thereby supporting a wide diversity of wildlife species. Because nearly all of the Louisiana prairies are gone, the Partners Program is focusing on restoring them. Prairie restoration involves broadcast seeding of native prairie grass and flower seeds combined with transplanting plugs of prairie sod from remnant prairie sites. Efforts are underway in the state to establish enough native prairie seed to harvest for future Louisiana prairie restoration projects.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is continuing to work closely with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to coordinate these conservation strategies in concert with their Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy to deliver priority conservation actions on private lands in Louisiana.

Since 1993, the Partners Program has assisted 152 cooperators in completing 15,580 acres of habitat restoration in Louisiana. This work includes:

  • 13,103 acres of bottomland hardwood reforestation (with 37 acres of chenier planting)
  • 85.5 acres of prairie restoration
  • 172 acres of longleaf pine restoration
  • 53 miles of riparian habitat restoration
  • 2,280 acres of shallow water habitat restoration using ditch plugs, low levee construction, water control structure installation, and excavation of swales.

At least 42 of those projects totaling over 4,014 acres provided direct habitat benefits to the threatened Louisiana black bear, two other projects involving fencing helped protect threatened gopher tortoises and the threatened Louisiana pearlshell mussel, and one stream project reduced sedimentation impacts to a Louisiana quillwort population. Twenty-six of those Partners projects complemented USDA conservation programs (e.g., WRP, CRP, WHIP, DFN, etc.).

Future Needs

  • In Louisiana there are 200,000 acres of marginal agricultural lands on a waiting list for restoration. These lands are restorable to productive forested wetlands.
  • 3,000 acres of native prairies could be restored.
  • 5,000 acres of longleaf pine habitat could be restored


Contact Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Louisiana

Andy Dolan
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
646 Cajundome Boulevard
Suite 400
Lafayette, Louisiana  70506
Phone: (337) 291-3119 or 3100
Fax: (337) 291-3139


Service Area

Statewide Program in:
  • Louisiana

Office Locaters

To request additions or corrections to this entry email the Administrator