Resources - Collaboration between Friends/Refuge

Friends partnership fact sheet is for Friends and Service staff

Fact sheet from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on Friends Partnerships, Understanding and Managing through the Live Cycles.

3-page, PDF, 315 KB

Friends Policy and Partnership Agreement


Background and Timeline:


April 4th, 2014 – U.S. FWS Director Dan Ashe, signed the Friends Policy to assist employees in achieving the Service mission more efficiently through partnerships with nonprofit Friends organizations. Details here.


January 21, 2014 – Acting Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, Cynthia Martinez, issued additional guidance regarding Service Volunteers and Friends Nature Stores to access this guidance click here.


2015: Service conducted webinars on the policy:

  • Region 1 and 8 webinar.
  • Region 2 webinar. Please note that on this webinar it is stated that if a refuge is 7-11 miles from a local grocery store, it might be appropriate for them to sell certain items (bottled water, snacks, etc.). That is not correct. We do not have a defined distance that deems it appropriate. Each refuge could be different — this is one of those questions where it is situational.
  • Region 5 webinar.


Spring 2014: The National Wildlife Refuge Association hires an independent law firm to review the Friends Partnership Agreement from a nonprofit’s perspective. View a side-by-side comparison of the Service’s template and the law firm’s suggested possible edits and comments.



March 15, 2016: After solicitor review of the recommendations presented by the law firm retained by the Refuge Association, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Director Steve Guertin, signs an amendment to the Partnership Agreement template regarding the anti-lobbying clause.

View the amendment here. 

Sample - Unique Partnership Agreement

The Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp, Inc. share their unique agreement with the Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Soaring to New Heights

Soaring to New Heights is a guide from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to creating a sustainable Friends/Refuge Collaboration.

Taking Flight

The COMPLETE guide to starting and sustaining a Friends Group!

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge Friends Coordinator Contact List

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national and regional staff available to assist  Friends organizations. 

Volunteer and Partner Involvement in the National Wildlife Refuge System

The Community Partnerships Implementation Team has finalized the Volunteer and Partner Involvement in the National Wildlife Refuge System report. The report was made available November of 2013.

44-pages, PDF, 10.7 MB

Working with Volunteers, Friends Organizations, and Community Partnerships

Working with Volunteers, Friends Organizations, and Community Partnerships contains policy, practical advice and case studies to improve how how you can work with community partners and cooperators. It assembles in one place policies, guidance, references and best proactices along with helpful hints not typically found in FWS policy manuals.

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