Great Plains

Great Plains NFCAs

Native Fish Conservation Areas (NFCAs; Dauwalter et al. 2011, Williams et al., 2011) are defined as watersheds with a management focus on the conservation and restoration of native fishes and the habitats on which they depend.

Through support from the GPLCC, Labay and Hendrickson (2014) completed a NFCA prioritization that identifies focal watersheds for preservation of freshwater fish diversity in the Great Plains.

This multispecies, watershed-based conservation prioritization is now being used to facilitate cooperative conservation of aquatic resources within the GPLCC’s multi-jurisdictional landscape, supporting local implementation of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan through stakeholder planning and facilitation workshops.

Project Title

Watershed-Based Conservation Planning to Inform a Network of Native Fish Conservation Areas in the Great Plains

Project Partners

University of Texas at Austin, Siglo Group, Great Plains LCC, Great Plains Fish Habitat Partnership, SARP, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Project Goal

The GPLCC is now supporting efforts by the partners referenced above to utilize this multi-species, watershed-based framework to facilitate cooperative planning and collaborative conservation of aquatic resources within the GPLCC’s multi-jurisdictional landscape.

Project Objective

Identify priority conservation actions and research needs for focal fish species and priority watersheds of the GPLCC through a series of watershed-specific workshops to obtain expert input, select focal management zones, identify potential conservation actions, and identify priority data and science needs that must be addressed in order to guide conservation actions.

Project Benefits

This project is intended to advance the cooperative conservation of Great Plains rivers and native fishes, and provide a catalyst for development of watershed-based conservation partnerships that will implement a proposed network of Native Fish Conservation Areas in the region.


Through support from the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GPLCC), Labay and Hendrickson completed a conservation assessment that provides a spatial framework for planning and implementing conservation actions to benefit 28 priority fishes in rivers of the Great Plains.

The conservation assessment completed by Labay and Hendrickson (2014) offers data-driven guidance and science-based justification for selection of priority river systems to advance watershed-scale conservation planning and delivery in the Great Plains.

In particular, the Native Fish Conservation Areas (NFCAs) analysis identifies a set of watersheds uniquely valued in preservation of regional fish diversity (See Major River basin NFCAs), as defined by the following four critical elements described by Williams et al. (2011).