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FWS Friends Policy, Agreement & More
The Friends Policy (633 FW 1-4) establish policy and provide guidance and administrative procedures for Service employees in the establishment of and working with Friends organizations. It is written to implement specific provisions of the National Wildlife the policy for Refuge System Volunteer and Community Partnership Enhancement Act of 1998 and the National Fish Hatchery System Volunteer Act of 2006.
There are four chapters to the policy each intended to assist U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) employees to achieve their mission more efficiently through partnerships with nonprofit Friends organizations.
Chapter 1: Working with Friends Organizations
- Provide authorities and guidance on roles, responsibilities, and ethical considerations for Service employees working with Friends organizations
- Defines Friends and the difference between Friends and volunteer activities
- Outlines Service expectations of Friends
- Exhibit 1 (Quarterly Reviews, Annual Reports, and in-Depth Reviews)
Chapter 2: Finance and Administration Through Friends Agreements
- Explains the business relationship between the Service and Friends organizations
- Describes normal business and administrative practices of Friends organizations and appropriate practices and activities on Service-managed property
- Describes the appropriate use, by Friends, of the Service’s intellectual property
Chapter 3: Friends Partnership Agreements
- Provides guidance on the need, process and content of developing Friends Partnership Agreements
- Provides a standardized Friends Partnership Agreement
- Provides a standardized Friends Supplemental Partnership Agreement to Use Service Property
Chapter 4: Friends Nature Stores and Other Revenue-Generating Activities
- Defines the roles and responsibilities of the Service and Friends organizations when a Friends organization manages revenue-generating activities on Service-managed property
- Provides guidance on the types of items that Friends organizations may sell in a Nature Store on Service-managed property
Source of information: USFWS Friends Policy webpage
Friends Partnership Agreement
The Friends Partnership Agreement is the required instrument that describes how U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) employees and a Friends organization work together cooperatively in support of the Service mission. The agreement describes the substantial involvement of both parties in mutually agreed-upon activities and ensures that both parties have a mutual understanding of their respective roles, responsibilities, rights, expectations, and requirements within the partnership.
The Service can only use a Friends Partnership Agreement with Friends organizations that meet the following qualifications:
- Are nonprofit organizations under Section 501(c)3 Title 26 of the Internal Revenue Service code;
- Established with an organizational mission of supporting the purposes and objectives of a Service site or program with which they are affiliated; and
- Cooperate with the Service under an approved Friends Partnership Agreement.
Source of information: USFWS Friends Partnership Agreement
Supplemental Partnership Agreement
The Friends Supplemental Partnership Agreement for Use of Service Property provides additional terms and responsibilities beyond the general terms of the Friend Partnership Agreement (FPA), and is required only for those Friends that use Service land, facilities, or equipment. It should either be completed and added to the Friends Partnership Agreement at the same time of Service ratification or added to an approved Friends Partnership Agreement as a modification. The supplemental agreement includes language for most uses of Service property by Friends, including the operation of nature stores on Service property.
Source of information: USFWS Policy Manual
Additional FWS Materials Supporting the Partnership
FWS has created additional materials to assist the Service and Friends enhance their partnerships.
- Friends Policy FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Annual Friends Tasks/Documentation Checklist of tasks and documentation the Service needs to care out annually.
- Overview of Federal Ethics Laws and Regulations that help Friends groups and other non-Federal Organizations be aware of the ethics laws, regulations and policies that FWS staff must follow when partnering with Friends.
- July 28th recording of FWS/NWRA/CORFA webinar on the updated Friends Policy that is dated 7/2/221.
- August 18th recording of FWS/NWRA/CORFA webinar on the updated Friends Policy that is dated 7/2/221.
FWS Policies Affecting Friends Organizations
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has numerous policies that provide guidance and administrative procedures for FWS employees partnering with Friends organizations. The Friends policy refers to other FWS policies that affect the partnership with Friends.
- 212 FW 8, Donations, Fundraising, and Solicitation
FWS policy for accepting, using and recognizing donations
- 041 FW 2, Emblems
Establishes policies and procedure for use of FWS logo
- 605 FW 1, Section 1.14, Wildlife-Dependent Recreation
Overarching guidance on visitor standards on refuges
- 605 FW 7, Interpretation
Overarching guidance on interpretation programs
Legislative Authorities Impacting FWS/Friends Partnerships
There is specific legislation that allows FWS to work with Friends groups:
- Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956
- Refuge Recreation Act of 1962
- The Anadromous Fish Conservation Act
- The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1934
- National Wildlife Refuge System Volunteer and Community Partnership Enhancement Act
- National Fish Hatchery System Volunteer Act of 2006
- The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966
- Lobbying with appropriated moneys
As of 7/12/21 the updated Friends Policy was finalized.