Northeast Regional Conservation Needs Grant Program


The purpose of the Northeast RCN Grant Program is to address critical landscape-scale wildlife conservation needs by combining the resources of numerous wildlife management agencies, leveraging funds, and prioritizing conservation actions identified in State Wildlife Action Plans.

Over the last 50 years, the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have created the largest multi-jurisdictional collaborative in the United States to effectively advance conservation priorities of State Wildlife Action Plans that transcend state or political boundaries. Through this partnership, NEAFWA states are capable of advancing high-priority conservation initiatives beyond traditional borders while also supporting advanced research and leveraging funds to address management challenges at multiple landscape scales.

In 2007, the Regional Conservation Needs (RCN) program was created through this coalition and involved the thirteen states within NEAFWA, the District of Columbia and the FWS Northeast Region Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration. By recognizing that numerous elements of individual State Wildlife Action Plans target conservation priorities common to all plans, participating states agree to pool 4% of their State Wildlife Grant apportionments to fund cooperative projects that impact regional-level conservation and restoration initiatives that extend far beyond state borders. An integral part of this cooperative approach has been the administrative assistance of the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) to coordinate funds from multiple states, and manage project contracts and agreements. As a result, the RCN program provides a mechanism to utilize the resources, techniques, expertise and funding needed to achieve a scale and scope of ecosystem conservation that would not be possible for any single state to deliver.

The central goal of the RCN program is to develop, coordinate, and implement conservation actions that are regional or sub-regional in scope, to build upon the multiple regional initiatives that already exist and compliment ongoing work in individual states.
Specifically, the RCN program produces:

  • Unifying maps of the target region’s habitats
  • Common language and condition analysis of those habitats
  • Identification of regional conservation focus areas; what they are and where they are
  • Consistent metrics to measure success and gauge effectiveness

Each year, roughly a half million dollars of State Wildlife Grant funds are provided by NEAFWA states, leveraging another half million dollars or more from WMI and proposal applicants. This is a substantial investment in conservation at a regional scale.