Conserving critical wildlife habitat at a regional scale can be challenging, especially when the region hosts a range of land uses, jurisdictions, and competing interests. Abundant opportunities exist for cooperation when vested conservation entities find common ground to use their unique strengths in a cooperative effort to protect and restore wetlands for wildlife and people. We present the Montezuma Wetlands Complex (MWC) Land Protection Partnership as a case study of regional conservation collaboration aimed at identifying areas in greatest need of wetland protection and restoration to support wetland wildlife and provide wildlife-based recreation. The MWC is among the most important wetland complexes in the Atlantic flyway of eastern North America for migratory birds because it provides critical migratory stopover habitat for millions of birds and regionally unique habitats for breeding birds and resident wildlife, including numerous endangered and threatened (E&T) species. This case study demonstrates how state, federal, and nonprofit entities with differing goals and objectives can partner to protect and restore critical wetland habitat for wildlife. Partners optimized efforts by developing an online survey that included physical, land cover, biological, and people/use attributes which were ranked by each partner to determine common priorities and applied these into a spatial mapping, decision-support tool. Within attribute categories, land protection (physical), emergent marshes (land use), E&T (biological), and recreational areas (people/use) were highest ranked by partners. The decision-support tool provided an objective method of ranking parcels of land for public outreach efforts by the partners to protect and restore wetland wildlife habitat.

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