Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
President Requests $1.4 Billion for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in FY 2021, Prioritizes Public Lands Access and Species Recovery

February 10, 2020


Laury Marshall, 703-358-2541,

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Trump is proposing a budget of $1.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2021 to fund the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s principal resource management and conservation programs. The 2021 request includes an additional $1.5 billion available under permanent appropriations the Service administers to states through grants that support state wildlife and sport fish conservation, recreational boating and other related programs.

“President Trump’s 2021 budget request for the Department is about investing in our people and public lands and waters,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “He is committed to the mission of conservation and creating more public access for Americans to fully enjoy our national treasures and landscapes. This budget is a critical step in the right direction and provides a path to restore commonsense in our budgeting process.”

The Service’s budget proposal reflects the Department of the Interior’s priorities of creating a conservation stewardship legacy second only to Teddy Roosevelt’s; restoring trust and being a good neighbor; protecting our people and the border; striking a regulatory balance; and modernizing our infrastructure. It amplifies the President’s commitment to create jobs, foster partnerships and provide increased access to United States public lands.

“This budget highlights the importance of protecting and conserving our nation’s fish, wildlife and natural resources and the immense variety of recreational activities they support,” said the Service’s Director Aurelia Skipwith. “The President’s proposal will help the Service continue to strengthen our commitment to better serving the American people by expanding access to our Refuge lands for hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts, focusing on recovering the nation's most imperiled species, especially working with private landowners, continuing to work collaboratively with states and tribes to meet our trust obligations. This budget also recognizes the dedicated staff of the Service and our work to shape and create a conservation force for decades to come.”

The FY 2021 budget focuses on the following priorities:

Conserving Our Lands and Waters
The President’s Budget contains $244.1 million to conserve, protect and enhance listed and at-risk fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats. This includes $28.6 million for conservation and restoration activities, including the proactive conservation of at-risk species. These funds support real results, such as the Service’s 2019 announcement that the Kirtland’s warbler is recovered and no longer requires Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection.

The budget proposes $107.8 million to support environmental reviews, consultation services and permitting that enables economic development and the creation of American jobs.  It also prioritizes funding to promote the recovery of listed species and complete recovery actions and five-year species status reviews as required by the ESA. 

The request for Habitat Conservation includes $57.2 million for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, and $12.9 million for the Coastal Program. These two programs provide federal assistance for habitat restoration and conservation work with private landowners.

The budget request also contains $40 million for North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants that provide funding for land acquisition by non-federal partners for wetlands conservation.

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program budget request is $31.3 million. These grants are provided to states for wildlife conservation. Within the total is $2 million for competitive grants for projects helping to protect key migration corridors for iconic western species including elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope.

To support cooperation with states on migratory bird management, the budget includes $49 million. In 2016, the most recent year in which the Service conducted the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 2.4 million migratory bird hunters generated $2.3 billion in economic activity, much of it in rural America supporting jobs in the travel, hospitality and outdoor recreation industries. 

The budget also includes a total of $18.9 million for the Service’s International Affairs program.   The Service provides technical and financial assistance to partners to support innovative projects that address wildlife poaching and trafficking by strengthening enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife, and expanding international cooperation and commitment to mitigate this threat.

The budget proposes $74 million for aquatic habitat and species conservation, including $9.8 million for combating Asian carp and $14 million for fish passage improvements, including dam and culvert removal or replacement to open streams and rivers to native fish restoration. The budget maintains funding for management of subsistence fishing in Alaska and fishery monitoring, management and restoration nationwide. 

Expanding Outdoor Recreation and Access
Funding for the operation and maintenance of the National Wildlife Refuge System is requested at $525.3 million, the largest request ever for the refuge system. It includes $3.5 million for Urban National Wildlife Refuges. The request ensures access to high-quality opportunities for all Americans to enjoy wildlife-dependent recreation, including hunting and fishing, and wildlife photography. The request also allows the Service to maintain habitat and facilities across the refuge system. 

The request for the refuge system includes $249.5 million for wildlife and habitat management and $86.8 million for visitor services. More than 100 wildlife refuges are within 25 miles of most major cities, offering excellent opportunities for Americans to enjoy all types of wildlife-dependent recreation in an urban setting.

The budget request includes a total of $156.1 million for Fish and Aquatic Conservation, of which $56 million would support operation of the National Fish Hatchery System. Mitigation hatcheries provide sport fish that increase opportunities for recreational fishing and contribute to local economies. Within the Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation request is $26.1 million for maintenance of infrastructure including pumps and raceways at fish hatcheries. 

Modernizing Our Organization and Infrastructure for the Next 100 Years
The budget request includes $145 million for National Wildlife Refuge System facility and equipment maintenance. The budget prioritizes maintenance of Service-owned facilities and infrastructure such as water control structures and administrative facilities. Ensuring health and human safety at existing facilities is the highest priority for maintenance funding.

The Service’s request for the Land Acquisition account is $10.9 million, including a $2 million cancellation of prior year balances. The FY 2021 budget includes $3 million focused on providing access to public lands for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities. 

Protecting Our People and the Border
The budget provides $77.5 million for the law enforcement program to investigate wildlife crimes and enforce wildlife laws. The Service continues to cooperate with the State Department, other federal agencies, and foreign governments to disrupt transportation routes connected to the illegal wildlife trafficking supply chain. The Service’s recent large-scale investigation into trafficking of Chinese mitten crabs is an example of this work. The Service will continue to cooperate with other nations to combat wildlife trafficking to halt the destruction of some of the world’s most iconic species, such as elephants and rhinos, by stopping illicit trade, ensuring sustainable legal trade, reducing demand for illegal products, and providing technical assistance and grants to other nations to develop local enforcement capabilities.

The Service’s Budget Justification is available online at

The Department of the Interior oversees one-fifth of the nation’s land and the entire Outer-Continental Shelf. The Department is charged with overseeing energy development on federal lands and waters, grazing allotments and timber sales, water conservation and delivery, upholding tribal trust responsibilities, conservation of wildlife and habitat, and maintaining access for recreation throughout public lands, among other priorities. With this budget, the Service is able to effectively fulfill its mission and address conservation priorities.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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