What We Do
Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (CESCF) grant programs provide funding to states and territories for species and habitat conservation actions on non-federal lands. States and territories must contribute a minimum non-federal match of 25 percent of the estimated project costs, or 10 percent when two or more states or territories implement a joint project. A state or territory must currently have, or enter into, a cooperative agreement with the Secretary of the Interior to receive grants. Most states and territories have entered into these agreements for both plant and animal species.
These cooperative agreements reflect a common commitment to advance the purpose and policies of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including providing a means to foster relationships with public and private partners, reduce conflicts between species conservation and economic development, and promote long-term conservation of species and the ecosystems on which they depend. Through these grants, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) works collaboratively with state and territorial governments to manage and conserve species and their habitats in a manner that respects state management authority over wildlife resources.
The Service awarded approximately $113 million in federal funding in fiscal years 2020–2021 under four grant programs that are available through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund.
Traditional Conservation Grants
First funded in fiscal year 1976, the principle objective of the Traditional Conservation Grant program is to support the development and implementation of state programs to conserve and monitor resident listed, candidate, and at-risk species. Eligible activities include habitat restoration, species status surveys, public education and outreach, captive propagation and reintroduction, nesting surveys, genetic studies, and development of management plans.
Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Land Acquisition Grants
Established in fiscal year 1997, the HCP Land Acquisition Grant Program was designed to reduce conflicts between species and habitat conservation and competing land uses on land associated with approved and permitted HCPs. Under this program, the Service provides matching grants to conserve species habitat that complements, but does not replace, the mitigation, minimization, and/or monitoring commitments of the HCP. Thus, all acquisitions are additive to the conservation commitments entered into when the HCPs are permitted. These grants serve as an important and effective mechanism to promote species recovery, prevent extinction, and preclude the need to list species under the ESA in the future.
Conservation Planning Assistance Grants
The Conservation Planning Assistance Grant program provides funding to States to support the development of new Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs), Safe Harbor Agreements (SHAs), and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs). Funding may also be used to support the renewal or amendment of existing HCPs, SHAs, and CCAAs. The development of HCPs that include only candidate or at-risk species (i.e., no federally listed species covered by the HCP), such that the HCP would be in place if the species is listed, is also supported through this program. Funding may be used to support development and planning activities such as document preparation, public outreach, baseline species surveys, habitat assessments, and inventories. The preparation of environmental compliance review documents, such as National Environmental Policy Act and National Historic Preservation Act, is also an eligible use of grant funds.
Recovery Land Acquisition Grants
Also established in fiscal year 2001, Recovery Land Acquisition Grants promote state and federal cooperation in listed species conservation by leveraging funds to acquire specific parcels of land in support of Service-approved recovery plans and outlines. The ESA conveys the importance of recovery plans as a central organizing tool for guiding the recovery process by requiring their development for every listed species. Acquisition of habitat to secure long-term protection is often an essential element of a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species.