The health of the National Wildlife Refuge System depends on more than just direct funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Conservation funding programs in other federal agencies offer potential benefits to the integrity of our national wildlife refuges. NWRA often advocates for these other conservation programs:
Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA)
The Natural Resources Conservation Service, under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, works with landowners and communities to improve soil, water, air, plants, wildlife and energy use. With offices in almost every county in the United States, the Service is an important partner for FWS in securing healthy ecosystems around national wildlife refuges.
Partners for Fish and Wildlife (FWS)
The Partners program is a powerful tool for working with private landowners to collaboratively conserve refuge landscapes. It generates between $4 -$10 in conservation return for every $1 appropriated. NWRA urges Congress to fund the program at its authorized level of $75 million, but annual funding has not yet reached this amount. A $75 million investment in the Partners program will conservatively net $300 million worth of additional conservation.
Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act
While our national wildlife refuges provide vital habitat for hundreds of species of migratory birds, the majority of America’s beloved songbirds, such as Baltimore orioles and scarlet tanagers, spend the winter months in the tropical forests of Mexico, Central and South America. As a result, NWRA supports funding the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. Conservation efforts through this fund not only help bird habitat, but also support the protection of forests that will mitigate climate change.
State Wildlife Grants
FWS works with state wildlife agencies to keep common species common and restore declining species before they become endangered. Funding the State Wildlife Grants program at $115 million annually is essential to fulfilling the shared federal-state responsibility for protecting our nation’s wildlife. The 2009 State of the Birds report, developed in partnership with the FWS, showed that wetland birds have fared well with targeted conservation, but birds dependent on forests, arid lands and especially grasslands have experienced significant and steady declines. State Wildlife Grants are an important tool for reversing this trend.
Wildlife Without Borders
Habitat loss, poaching and climate change are a few of the threats that endanger the world’s most charismatic wild animals. FWS’s Wildlife Without Borders program provides international conservation grants to help wildlife managers around the world protect globally important species.