The Minnesota Chapter, Western Section, and TWS Headquarters participated in the Teaming with Wildlife National Coalition’s Annual Fly-In to advocate for increased funding levels for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program. The President’s budget requested $70 million for the program in Fiscal Year 2016, which is an increase of $11.3 million over enacted Fiscal Year 2015 levels.
Fly-In participants from over 25 different states and the District of Columbia met with Members of Congress and their staff to emphasize the importance of the program. Participants explained how State and Tribal Wildlife Grants prevent species from becoming endangered and optimize capacity to implement on-the-ground conservation actions through fund-matching and empowering partnerships between federal, state, and non-governmental agencies.
Cynthia Perrine, Western Section Representative to Council, met with Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA), while TWS staff met with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), as well as other members of the Maryland Congressional delegation. Congresswoman Capps and Senator Cardin were selected to receive the two annual coalition awards because of their longstanding support for the program. Other TWS members and staff met with offices for Minnesota and Illinois.
Ultimately, the goal of the fly-in was to ask Members of Congress to sign a letter to Congressional appropriators advocating for robust funding for the program. Last year, 170 Members of Congress signed onto the letter. Currently, the letter, which is led by Don Young (R-AK) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), is circulating through the House of Representatives. A Senate version will be distributed later. Members were also asked to submit “programmatic requests” to the Appropriations Committee for the specific level of funding, $70 million.
State Wildlife Grant funds are apportioned to each state, territory, and federally recognized tribe and are used aid in the conservation of over 12,000 species nationwide. Each state identifies its own pressing conservation needs in each individual State Wildlife Action Plans, which are required to be revised in 2015.
The fly-in was hosted by the Teaming with Wildlife Coalition, which represents over 6,400 organizations. TWS serves on the steering committee for the coalition.