Land trusts protect land directly by buying or accepting donations of either land or conservation easements. A conservation easement (or conservation restriction) is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land to protect its conservation values, including wildlife habitat. It allows the landowner to continue to own and use the land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs. Land trusts also educate the public and advocate for the need to conserve land.
Defenders of Wildlife helped create the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program (SWG) to encourage proactive wildlife conservation by federal agencies, state agencies and Indian tribes. Congress designates approximately $68 million in funding grants to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all 6 U.S. territories each year to help the states develop biodiversity conservation programs that will prevent species from becoming endangered.
America’s National Wildlife Refuge System is the world’s largest network of protected areas dedicated to wildlife conservation. For more than a century, the refuge system has been integral to bringing species such as the whooping crane back from the brink of extinction. Each year, tens of millions of people visit and enjoy national wildlife refuges in every U.S. state and territory, infusing nearly $1.74 billion into local economies and creating more than 32,500 U.S. jobs.