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Another budget concern: SWG


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Black Oystercatcher. Len Blumin/Flickr
From the Birding Community E-bulletin, May 2014:
 
ANOTHER BUDGET CONCERN: SWG
 
Last month, we profiled the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as a vital bird-funding mechanism that deserved special appreciation and special concern this year: http://refugeassociation.org/?p=9323/#revisiting
 
This month, we take a look at the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants (SWG), a successful and struggling part of the federally-funded bird-and-wildlife mix for over a dozen years. SWG is the primary funding source available for state wildlife agencies to restore and manage non-game birds and wildlife species at risk.
 
State and regional conservation work on such species as Black Oystercatcher, Mountain Plover, Golden-winged Warbler, Tricolored Blackbird, Bobolink, Dickcissel, and Bachman's and Henslow's Sparrows have all been funded through SWG. This funding source remains the only federal program with the explicit goal of trying to prevent Endangered Species listings, even though state wildlife agencies have to return every year, practically with hat-in-hand, to ask for funding.
 
You can find more background here on SWG since 2001: http://teaming.com/state-tribal-wildlife-grants-swg-program
 
As we mentioned last month, the President's proposed FY 2015 budget made a request for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants of only $50 million, a disappointing drop, from $58.7 million. This proposed 15 percent cut may be an indication that the Administration's support for SWG is wavering. If so, it would be tragic; it would put the funding back to its original 2001 level, at $50 million.
 
In the past, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant funding has fluctuated considerably (e.g., $65 million in FY03, $75 million in FY09, $90 million in FY10, $61.4 million in FY12). Unfortunately, this funding is not dedicated, or guaranteed on a yearly basis.
 
Had the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) passed the Senate in 2000, after having overwhelmingly passed the House that spring, these wildlife grants to the states would have been guaranteed at $350 million annually, a far cry from the comparatively impoverished SWG. By now, the total for the states would have surpassed $4.2 billion. Instead, over the last dozen years not quite a quarter of that has gone to the states for wildlife sustainability.
 
If the proposed 15 percent cut to SWG stands, bird conservation in the U.S. will be dealt a serious setback.

Next month, we'll review the funding situation for the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
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