Conservation Policy Successes

  • In 1900, the Lacy Act authorized activities to protect, preserve, and restore game and other wild birds.
  • In 1903, the Pelican Island National Refuge off the coast of Florida was established as the first federally protected habitat. President Theodore Roosevelt created the Refuge after learning that hunters were killing the birds and selling their feathers to hat makers for use on ladies' hats.
  • In 1916, the National Park Service Organic Act set up the national parks system to provide public recreational areas and to conserve ecologically sensitive acreage.
  • In 1918, the Migratory Bird Treaty prohibited the hunting of all migratory and insect-eating birds except as specifically allowed under federal regulations.
  • In 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act imposed excise taxes on hunting equipment, such as rifles, shotguns, and ammunition, to support state wildlife conservation programs.
  • In 1958, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act was established to determine how proposed water-resource development projects might adversely affect wildlife.
  • In 1969, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) imposed environmental responsibilities on all agencies of the federal government. With the enactment of NEPA, every federal agency was required to consider the environmental consequences of its actions. One of the most important sections of the act requires an environmental impact statement for federal agency activities or federally funded activities.
  • In 1972, the Marine Mammal Protection Act banned the killing and importing of whales and most other marine mammals.
  • In 1973, the Endangered Species Act was enacted to "provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend may be conserved, and to provide a program for the conservation of these species."* The Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for the protection of most threatened and endangered species. The Department of Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service is responsible for marine mammals and anadromous fish (fish that spend part of their life in fresh water and part in salt water).
  • The 1985 Farm Bill's Swampbuster provisions penalized farmers for wetland conversion to cropland or grazing land.
  • Both the 1990 Farm Bill and the 1996 Farm Bill established programs to preserve wildlife habitat and the 2002 Farm Bill (the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002) includes conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Environmental Quallity Incentives Program(EQIP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program(WHIP) and the Wetlands Reserve Program which provide financial and technical assistance to farm and ranch owners for the enhancement of wildlife habitat for game and nongame birds, mammals and reptiles.
  • In 1996, the Magnuson-Stevens Sustainable Fisheries and Conservation Act was enacted to conserve the habitat of marine, estuarine and anadromous finfish as well as mollusks and crustaceans.
  • In addition to federal laws, the U.S. is party to a number of international agreements to conserve and protect wildlife, including among others migratory bird treaties with Canada and Mexico; a migratory bird treaty with Japan; the Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western Hemisphere; the International Convention for Northwest Atlantic Fisheries; and the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • The Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) was a historic conservation law that almost passed Congress in 2001, after years of work by a national coalition of conservation supporters. CARA would have guaranteed $3.1 billion a year in funding for state, federal, and local conservation programs. Title III of the law would have provided $350 million a year for wildlife conservation. [Learn more]
  • Created by Congress in 2001, the State Wildlife Grants program is our nation's core program for keeping wildlife from becoming endangered. The program provides annual funding for on-the-ground conservation projects in every state and territory. [Learn more]
  • Introduced in April 2004 by Representatives George Miller (D-California) and Don Young (R-Alaska), the Get Outdoors Act would provide $3.125 billion in permanent funding each year for conservation programs at the local state and federal level, including $350 million annually for wildlife conservation.
  • In May 2005, the Americans Outdoors Act was introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), the Americans Outdoors Act includes $350 million annually for wildlife conservation.
  • The Climate Stewardship Act was introduced in May 2005 by Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut), the Climate Stewardship Act (S. 1151) would provide more than $500 million annually or wildlife conservation.

For more than a century, state, provincial and territorial fish and wildlife agencies have upheld the primary responsibility for conserving and preventing the exploitation of those resources on public and private lands and waters within their borders.

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