A Natural Investment
Since 2000, State Wildlife Grants have transformed species and habitat conservation in New Hampshire.
In 2010, New Hampshire Fish and Game joined with the other states and territories to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the State Wildlife Grants program (SWG) and the remarkable successes it has brought for wildlife and habitats here and across the nation.
“State Wildlife Grants provide the most substantial funding source for the conservation of wildlife species that aren’t hunted or fished – and that’s most of them,” said John Kanter, coordinator of N.H. Fish and Game’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.
In its first ten years, State Wildlife Grants provided some $5.7 million for the Nongame Program’s critical work in New Hampshire. That’s translated into restoring populations of species such as Karner blue butterflies and ospreys, as well as providing essential research, planning, conservation mapping and technical support for communities across the state. Current and recent projects include a multi-state effort to save the endangered New England cottontail; working with N.H. Audubon to prevent the further decline of whip-poor-wills and other shrubland birds; and developing a recovery strategy for black racer snakes by following them using radio transmitters.
Nongame Program biologists are studying the habitat use and movement patterns of black racer snakes, a threatened species in N.H., a project supported by SWG funds. Photo by Brendan Clifford.
SWG enables Nongame Program staff to be in the field every day, working with stakeholders and community members, addressing the most pressing conservation needs with practical actions and on-the-ground results. “We are able to do what we do because of State Wildlife Grants, as well as the essential ‘match’ dollars provided by the Moose Conservation License Plate, Nongame Program donors and volunteers, and our conservation partners,” Kanter said. States must match every SWG dollar; without matching funds and projects, the program wouldn’t qualify for the federal money, he explained. Fishing and hunting license funds do not go into nongame species research and management.
By providing federal grant funds for the development and implementation of programs that benefit fish and wildlife and their habitats, SWG has transformed wildlife conservation in New Hampshire and around the country. In all, state fish and wildlife agencies have received more than $573 million through State Wildlife Grants over the past ten years. Initial grants were used to develop Wildlife Action Plans for every U.S. state, territory and tribe. Together, these plans form a nationwide strategy to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered, and improve on prior conservation efforts because of the broad participation and open planning process. All activities funded through State Wildlife Grants must link with species, actions, or strategies included in the N.H. Wildlife Action Plan.
“Without SWG funds, it’s hard to say what nongame conservation would look like in New Hampshire,” said Kanter. “State Wildlife Grants have been the catalyst for the comprehensive N.H. Wildlife Action Plan and all the strategies in it – and we’re seeing fantastic results, like communities that are working to incorporate wildlife and habitat needs into their planning. A decade of wildlife work under SWG is a great start, and I’m excited to see what the next ten years of the program will bring.”