U.S. State Wildlife Action Plans, Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategies

In 2002 Congress began funding the State Wildlife Grants program with the intent to conserve wildlife in the U.S. and in particular to prevent new listings of endangered species under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. The State Wildlife Grants program provides federal grant funds for developing and implementing programs that benefit wildlife and their habitats through annual appropriations to state wildlife agencies.

In order to make the best use of the federal funds provided through State Wildlife Grants, Congress charged each state and territory with developing a State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP), also known as Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy.  All 50 States and five U.S. territories developed a State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) in 2005. Congress required the inclusion of eight “core elements,” and a focus on wildlife of greatest conservation need. Further, the plans were required to be updated every ten years. All 50 states, U.S. territories, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico completed their Action Plans by the first round submission date on October 2005.

The following are the eight required elements of Wildlife Action Plans:

1. Information on the distribution and abundance of wildlife, including low and declining populations, that describes the diversity and health of the state’s wildlife.

2. Descriptions of locations and relative conditions of habitats essential to species in need of conservation.

3. Descriptions of problems that may adversely affect species or their habitats, and priority research and survey efforts.

4. Descriptions of conservation actions proposed to conserve the identified species and habitats.

5. Plans for monitoring species and habitats, and plans for monitoring the effectiveness of the conservation actions and for adapting these conservation actions to respond to new information.

6. Descriptions of procedures to review the plan at intervals not to exceed 10 years.

7. Coordination with federal, state, and local agencies and Indian tribes in developing and implementing the wildlife action plan. 

8. Broad public participation in developing and implementing the wildlife action plan.


In response to increasing climate change impacts on wildlife and natural resource management, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) released Voluntary Guidance for States to Incorporate Climate Change into State Wildlife Action Plans & Other Management Plans in 2009. The report provides a summary of current climate science, a suite of climate adaptation planning and implementation tools, and voluntary guidance on incorporating climate considerations into Wildlife Action Plans. 


Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Funding program
  • Planning guides

Go To Resource