U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program

State Wildlife Grant Program - History

Congress created the State Wildlife Grant (SWG) program in 2000 to help State fish and wildlife agencies and their partners conserve sensitive or imperiled fish and wildlife species, especially those not traditionally hunted or fished. Unlike most other programs administered by the Service’s Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR), the SWG Program is a discretionary program, meaning it is funded through annual Congressional appropriations.

States are required to maintain an approved State Wildlife Action Plan in order to receive SWG Program funds from WSFR. Each Plan identifies the State's species of greatest conservation need, their key habitats and threats, and the actions needed to conserve them. The Plans were developed by Federal, State, and local agencies, tribal partners, scientists, recreationalists, and others to outline how those partners will work together to conserve wildlife across the entire state.

The completion of the Plans in 2005 was a major milestone in conservation. The State Wildlife Action Plans provide the first blueprint for the conservation of the full spectrum of wildlife throughout the United States.  The Plans exemplify a proactive, preventative approach to conserving fish and wildlife species, before they become too rare or costly to restore.  In total, the State Wildlife Action Plans identify more than 12,000 species of greatest conservation need. In 2015, States submitted updated Plans to the Service.

In 2008, Congress authorized a portion of State Wildlife Grant Program funds to be allocated to a competitive subprogram. The Competitive SWG subprogram encourages multi-State, multi-partner projects that implement actions identified in the State Wildlife Action Plans. In 2013, eligibility for Competitive SWG funds was extended to the four Regional Associations of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. This change is intended to help facilitate efficient administration of competitive funds for landscape-scale conservation projects involving multiple States.

The State Wildlife Grant Program remains the Nation's principal source of funds supporting States’ actions to conserve non-game fish and wildlife. It is the only federal program with the explicit goal of preventing endangered species listings.

The program succeeds due to the long history of cooperation between the Federal government and the States for managing and conserving wildlife species, a tradition that first began in 1937 with passage of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act.