Keeping Wildlife From Becoming Endangered
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What Are State Wildlife Grants (SWG)?
The State Wildlife Grants program provides federal dollars to every state to support conservation aimed at preventing fish and wildlife populations from declining and avoiding potential listing under state or federal Endangered Species Acts. Congress created the program in 2001. Funds appropriated under the State Wildlife Grants program are allocated to the states according to a formula that takes into account each state's size and population. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is responsible for the administration of SWG funds in Vermont.
America's Wildlife at Stake
State fish and wildlife agencies have a lengthy success record of restoring and conserving fish and wildlife species. Hunter and angler license fees and federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment have funded the bulk of this work over the years. As a result, conservation and restoration efforts have concentrated on (but not been limited to) game species. There has always been a serious lack of funding for those species that are not hunted or fished. These non-game species make up more than 90 percent of our nation's and Vermont's wildlife. They are critical to the health, vitality and value of animal communities and ecosystems that include all wildlife species regardless of whether or not they are hunted or fished by humans. Loss of suitable habitat caused by changes in land use as well as negative impacts caused by invasive species, pose ongoing threats to the very existence of some species.
Funding for On-The-Ground Wildlife Conservation
State Wildlife Grants support programs that benefit wildlife and their habitats-including species that are not hunted and fished. Species of special conservation concern may be, but need not be limited to, species that that appear on federal or state Threatened and Endangered Species lists. Law requires that priority for use of State Wildlife Grant funds be placed upon those species with greatest conservation need, taking into consideration the relative level of funding available from other sources for the conservation of those species.
Projects supported by Vermont's State Wildlife Grants program
Species of greatest conservation need may be those that have declined in number and/or distribution, or species for which eminent threats exist. State Wildlife Grants have funded more than 40 programs in Vermont to date. These include: conservation research and recovery planning for spruce grouse, lake sturgeon, turtles, bats and freshwater mussels;
terrestrial and aquatic habitat assessments; and preparation of planning and education documents. In many cases, these projects represent the first time a species or habitat has been examined or surveyed by professionals in Vermont.
Fiscally Responsible Conservation
State Wildlife Grants save taxpayers millions of dollars. Once a species drops to the point of potential extinction, recovery efforts become risky and expensive. Clearly, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A non-federal match requirement assures local ownership and leverages funds to support conservation. For each federal dollar appropriated, more than double the value is generated from other sources.
Broad and Bipartisan Support
A boost in funding for 2004 to $70 million (from $65 million in 2003) demonstrates the high level of bipartisan Congressional support that this program has, even in these lean economic times. The Teaming with Wildlife coalition-made up of more than 3,000 groups, including hunters and anglers, environmentalists, and tourism and other nature-related businesses-is united to support a bright future for America's wildlife.