The Tennessee Partners Project is a private lands program designed to establish or improve waterfowl and wetland habitat. The program began in 1993, and is a cooperative effort between the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA), University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service (UTAES) and the landowner.

Under the program, landowners are provided water control structures and technical assistance for the design and installation of waterfowl impoundments. The TDA and DU also may provide some cost-share assistance toward the construction of the project. In return, landowners sign a minimum 10-year agreement to flood croplands and other designated areas from October 1 or immediately after crops are harvested until March 1 each year, and limit waterfowl hunting to mornings only. At the end of the agreement period, the landowner retains ownership of all water control structures. The cooperating agencies expect the practice of holding water during the winter months to continue after the contract period ends primarily due to the anticipated benefits.

Benefits to landowners from the flooding of crop fields may include:

  • Inhibited weed growth
  • Increased soil moisture at crop planting
  • Personal recreation opportunities
  • Financial return from duck hunting leases

Benefits to the environment may include:

  • Sediment trapping and reduced sedimentation to water courses
  • Water quality improvements due to reduced pesticide applications
  • Increased waterfowl and shallow water habitat for wildlife
  • Reduced disease potential from dispersal of waterfowl

As of May 2006, approximately 13,500 acres of shallow water have been developed under Tennessee Partners Program agreements, primarily in West Tennessee. This habitat has benefited waterfowl, wading and shorebirds, and other wildlife associated with aquatic habitats.

For more information contact:

Tim Willis
Regional Biologist
235 Oil Well Road
Jackson, TN 38305
731.668.0700 (ext. 107)