Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Northeast states receive $1.3 million in federal grants to help protect imperiled species
Projects will support freshwater mussels, enhance mapping for species of conservation need, and fund disease screening and care for native turtles confiscated from wildlife traffickers

October 22, 2021


Bridget Macdonald, USFWS


Imperiled wildlife across the nation will benefit from approximately $7.4 million in grants thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Competitive State Wildlife Grant (C-SWG) program. The program supports projects led by state, territory and commonwealth fish and wildlife agencies protecting vulnerable wildlife and their habitats.

Three of this year’s primary grantees are state agencies in the Northeast: the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, formerly called the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, will collectively receive $1.3 million in federal funding through the program. Virginia’s wildlife agency will also support a project led by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to create and restore habitat for the Eastern black rail, a wetland bird listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“The Competitive State Wildlife Grants provide a proactive, collaborative and innovative mechanism for addressing significant threats to our nation’s cherished wildlife and their habitats. Stemming the crisis of species extinction is a central component of the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative,” said Martha Williams, the Service’s Principal Deputy Director.

“One of the initiative’s goals is to enhance wildlife habitat and improve biodiversity to keep species from reaching the point where they are too far gone to save. In addition, these grants provide support for State Wildlife Action Plans that underpin important efforts to conserve imperiled species and their habitats.”

The projects include timely actions, such as range-wide species assessments and habitat improvements for regional species of greatest conservation need, like the brook floater mussel.  Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game will lead partnering states – including New Jersey, South Carolina, and Virginia -- to build upon conservation successes for the brook floater by advancing conservation planning, propagation, restoration, and population and habitat assessments in more states, and watersheds, across the species' range.

Projects also support coordination around threats that are intentionally hidden from view. Turtle populations are declining rapidly due in part to illegal collection for the domestic and international trade. Because turtles are long lived and slow to reproduce, turtle trafficking creates an unsustainable drain on wild populations that are already at risk from other threats. Many native turtle species are listed, or under consideration for listing, as state or federally endangered, including Blanding’s, wood, and spotted turtles. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources will lead a project to provide resources needed to conduct disease screening, genetic analyses, and coordination among state wildlife agencies to identify quarantine sites and long-term housing facilities for illegally collected native turtles. The project will establish the safest, most efficient, and cost-effective process for getting turtles back to their state of origin whenever possible.

The FY 2021 projects also include efforts to implement improvements to State Wildlife Action Plans through increased use of climate science, mapping technologies, and shared databases, as in Vermont. The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife will enhance its Wildlife Action Plan mapping to ensure that the state’s species of greatest conservation need thrive and persist in the face of changing conditions.

The C-SWG program employs a nationally competitive process to select and fund projects that conserve species listed in State Wildlife Action Plans. All 56 state, territorial and commonwealth wildlife agencies have such plans, which target state-identified Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The program facilitates collaboration among state, federal, Tribal and nongovernmental fish and wildlife managers, creating nationwide conservation networks. Fortifying this spirit of collaboration is $2.8 million in nonfederal funds provided by states and their partners.

The complete list of 2021 SWG competitive projects can be found here:

 The C-SWG Program is part of the larger SWG Program, which awards grants according to a formula described in the annual appropriations act and based on a state, territory or commonwealth’s geographical size and population. For more information on the SWG program visit:

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