© Barry Draper

Defending Habitat

Private Lands

Private Lands and Wildlife Conservation

In the United States, nearly 70 percent of the lower 48 is privately owned, and more than 40 percent of that is managed for agriculture. Private lands support more than two-thirds of the species listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), with ten percent of listed species occurring only on private lands. Conservation of these lands is essential to their recovery. These lands also disproportionately support remaining tall and shortgrass prairie, longleaf pine forests and bottomland hardwood forests. Our experts work with federal, state and local agencies, as well as private landowners to identify and conserve important private lands for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and plants.

The Farm Bill

As the largest source of federal funds for conservation on private lands, the Farm Bill is our greatest opportunity to conserve native fish, wildlife and plants on private lands nationwide. Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill to update policy and establish initial funding levels for Farm Bill programs approximately every five years. Defenders of Wildlife advocates for strong conservation programs in the Farm Bill that produce measurable outcomes for wildlife. In reauthorizing the Farm Bill, we urge Congress to pass legislation that provides for species without undermining or eliminating federal conservation law or impairing management of federal public lands.

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