Action Center: U.S. Congressional Appropriations

© Rachel Santymire

The annual US Congressional Appropriations Process is the primary means by which Congress states its wildlife conservation and management priorities to the nation. Every year, Congress sets the amount of funding provided for federal agencies and a variety of wildlife research, conservation and management programs – like the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, the USGS Cooperative Research Units program, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the Forest Service Forest and Rangeland Research program.


In preparation for this process, The Wildlife Society engages each year with the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees charged with setting funding for wildlife programs. This year, TWS particularly highlighted the need for robust funding of the USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units program due to its record levels of understaffing, as well as the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program due to its proven record of cost-effectively conserving at-risk species.

Wildlifers can use the form to the right to engage the appropriations process by writing to their members of Congress about federal funding that is important to them as a wildlife professional. The form provides some suggested language – please adapt it to include additional context and insights on how particular federal wildlife funding is important to your district, your state, and you as a professional. Remember that the goal of your input is to put a face to the program, and to educate the policy maker on the impacts of the program on their state’s public trust wildlife resources. Be informative and sincere in your approach, and do not be afraid to provide personal anecdotes.

As a wildlife professional, you are the expert on how federal funding and policies impact everyday practices. Your on-the-ground information provides valuable context to legislators making decisions on wildlife management and conservation funding.

For more information on current FY2021 Appropriations discussions, visit:

U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture

See below for a summary of recommendations provided to Congress by TWS:
Program TWS Requested Funding Level for FY 2021 House-Passed FY 2021 Funding Level Current Funding Level For FY 2020 Program Description
USGS Cooperative Research Units (CRUs) $25.0 M $25.0 M $24.0 M CRUs housed at public Universities provide fish and wildlife research and technical assistance tailored to the needs of natural resource managers in the field. They also help educate the next generation of wildlife professionals.
USFWS State & Tribal Wildlife Grants $90.0 M $78.3 M $67.6 M This grant program provides funds for states and tribes to conserve at-risk species before they reach the point of endangerment. Though it has proven effective, it is chronically underfunded by Congress.
USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System – Operations and Maintenance $586.0 M $510.8 M $502.4 M The Refuge System is the largest and most diverse network of conservation lands in the world and has a mission to protect, manage, and, where appropriate, restore native species and habitat.
USFWS Ecological Services $270.0 M $278.3 M $266.0 M Ecological Services administers the Endangered Species Act, working with diverse public and private partners to help identify species facing extinction and reduce threats to their populations in order to move them effectively through all steps of the listing process.
USFWS North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) $50.0 M $46.5 M $46.0 M NAWCA grants fund projects that protect, restore, and enhance wetlands across the continent.
USFWS Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA) $6.5 M $4.9 M $4.9 M NMBCA is a grant program that supports migratory bird conservation by funding population and habitat conservation projects across the Western Hemisphere.
USFWS Migratory Bird Joint Ventures (MBJVs) $19.9 M $16.2 M $14.6 M MBJVs are locally-directed partnerships that develop and implement science-based habitat conservation strategies for all species of birds across North America.
BLM Wildlife & Aquatic Management $190 M 190.1 M $186.5 M Wildlife and Aquatic Management maintains and restores fish and wildlife, including endangered species, and their habitat across BLM lands.
BLM Wild Horse & Burro Management $116.8 M $102.6 M $101.6 M BLM manages free-ranging wild horses and burros across the western rangelands. These ecologically invasive, feral species must be appropriately management by the BLM down to ecologically sustainable levels
USFS Research and Development $315.0 M $311.8 M $305.0 M This program provides critical scientific research, including on fish and wildlife, to inform management of national forests and grasslands.
USDA – APHIS Wildlife Services: Wildlife Damage Management $112 M $110.9 M $109.8 M Wildlife Services provides front-line assistance to stakeholders to resolve human-wildlife conflict and protect both natural and man-made resources.
USDA – APHIS Wildlife Services: Methods Development $20 M $19.1 M $18.9 M Methods Development supports the National Wildlife Research Center, which provides Wildlife Services with the tools needed to prevent human-wildlife conflict.
USDA – NIFA: Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA) $10 M $4.1 M $4.1 M RREA provides funding for extension activities related to forestry and natural resources at land-grant universities.
USDA – NIFA: McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry $41 M $38 M $36.0 M McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry provides funds for long-term private lands research at public and land grant universities.
USDA – NRCS: Private Lands Conservation Operations $890 M $833.8 M $829.6 M Through Farm Bill Title II Conservation Programs, NRCS provides technical assistance to landowners to advance resource conservation on private lands.

To learn more about The Wildlife Society’s funding requests for Fiscal Year 2021, check out TWS’ Department of the Interior and Agriculture appropriation testimonies. You can also check out past funding requests by visiting TWS’ policy library.