Interior distributes $56M in state wildlife grants

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded $56 million to states and territories through the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program for Fiscal Year 2022 to help conserve imperiled species and their habitats.

The Wildlife Society regularly advocates for robust funding of the program in the annual appropriations process. In fact, TWS recently provided testimony to House and Senate appropriators advocating for adequate State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program (STWG) funding in Fiscal Year 2023. Support for the program has recently been reflected on Capitol Hill. A letter signed by 165 bipartisan House members was circulated in support of the highest level of funding possible for the STWG program in Fiscal Year 2023.

The STWG program is the only federal program that directly supports states in preventing at-risk wildlife from becoming listed under the Endangered Species Act. Congress created the program in 2000 and initially funded it at $50 million. Since then, appropriations reached a high of $90 million in Fiscal Year 2010 but have averaged $63.5 million per year for the past twelve years.

On Earth Day, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Department of the Interior awarded states a total of $56 million through the grant program in 2022, slightly lower than the twelve-year average.

These federal grants are the primary funding source for implementation of State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs), which provide a blueprint for conserving over 12,000 fish and wildlife species across the country. The SWAPs have successfully allowed for the recovery and monitoring of vulnerable species like the interior least tern (Sternula antillarum), swift fox (Vulpes velox), and Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris) since the inception of STWGs over 20 years ago.

While individual states receive a few million dollars every year at most to implement their SWAPs, efforts continue for dedicated and adequate implementation funding through passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 2773; S. 2372). The legislation recently passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and now awaits consideration by the full House and Senate.

Members of TWS can check out the appropriations action center and/or the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act action center in the coming weeks for updates on TWS’ positioning on FY 2023 funding and/or opportunities to engage in the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

Header Image: American pika (Ochotona princeps) are one of many at-risk species that State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program benefits. Credit: Jon LeVasseur/NPS