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Partnership Refuges: The Future of the National Wildlife Refuge System? A Case Study of Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with partners to carryout management activities and events on national wildlife refuges. Partnerships provide financial and conservation management assistance for refuges and allow the Service to expand its breadth of influence to different agencies and organizations nationwide. As partnerships become a more valuable tool utilized by refuges, the Service should consider establishing partnership-based refuges, in which the refuge is owned by multiple organizations and not solely by the Service. This Master of Regional Planning Project evaluates one of the first partnership refuges, Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge, located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Through the Service's partnership with eight state, local, and private entities, Mashpee NWR is the only known wildlife refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System whose land is co-owned and managed by nine different organizations. This project follows the Mashpee Partnership through the beginning stages of the refuge'[s comprehensive conservation planning process and during revisions made to the refuge's original establishing document, a Memorandum of Understanding, which will be agreed to and signed by all nine organizations. The Mashpee Partnership represents an important step towards the acceptance of partnership-based refuges within the Service. This project highlights the partners and the development of the Mashpee Partnership, and how they have collaboratively planned for the refuge's future. Through case studies, interviews, and an examination of partners' land uses, this project examines the Mashpee Partnership and the influence it has had on the Service and partners. A collaboration toolkit and other recommendations are provided, with the goal that the Service will use Mashpee NWR as a model for establishing new wildlife refuges through partnerships.
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