US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version

January 1993


Published in Diana H. Cross and Paul Vohs (eds.) Waterfowl Management Handbook. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1988. Online at


The decline of waterfowl populations and the loss of wetlands are high-ranking environmental concerns in North America. The importance of these issues is reflected in an ambitious wetland recovery plan, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Signed in 1986 by the U.S. and Canadian federal governments, the plan features specific strategies to reverse the declines in waterfowl numbers and wetland acreage. The goal is to restore waterfowl populations to a level common to the 1970’s by improving and securing long-term protection of 6 million acres (2.4 million ha) of habitat in 34 areas of major concern.

The key to achieving this goal is partnerships: federal, state, provincial, territorial, and tribal governments joining forces with private conservation organizations and individuals. Early on, it was clear to authors of the plan that securing habitat for waterfowl would also yield benefits for a wealth of other wildlife and plants. Partners in the plan looked beyond the protection of individual wetlands and single-species management to integrated management of ecosystems on public and private land.

More recently, national programs such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, major agricultural legislation, and agreements with Mexico stimulated new ways of approaching the challenge. Recognizing that objectives have increased since 1986 and that benefits to species other than waterfowl could be more explicitly addressed, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Committee in 1992 initiated a process to update the plan. The update will reflect a thorough evaluation of the implemented plan. In this paper, we describe the current status of the plan, including accomplishments, benefited species, and plans for future projects.