The successful and popular State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program was targeted for a 15% cut in the Administration's budget released on March 4, 2014. The proposed cut would drop funding to state fish and wildlife agencies to$50 million for the next fiscal year, down from $58.7 million this current fiscal year. State and Tribal Wildlife Grants are critical to state agencies for funding on-the-ground conservation to prevent fish and wildlife from becoming endangered.
The cut to the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program was unexpected since overall spending in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service budget is higher than last year. Similar cuts were not made to other grant programs.
On March 18, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies President Dan Forster sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on behalf of the Association expressing AFWA's disappointment with the 15% cut to the program.
The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program has endured a 35% cut since FY10, despite being the only federal grant program with the specific purpose of preventing expensive, last-ditch recovery efforts once a species is listed as federally endangered. The program has successfully prevented new federal listings and is used by states and their partners to implement Congressionally mandated State Wildlife Action Plans that prioritize species conservation.
Each state, territorial and district state fish and wildlife agency is a recipient of formula-based State Wildlife Grant funding. The program is supported by the more than 6,400 organizations that make up the national Teaming With Wildlife coalition, representing millions of birders, hunters, anglers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
The Association implores Members of Congress, at a minimum, to continue the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program at its current funding level.