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Fish & Wildlife Service announces new donation and fundraising policy

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The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) announced a new policy on donations. FWS declared the policy in the Federal Register of Tuesday, June 17, 2014, though it is applying the policy retroactively to May 1. FWS is using the guidelines of the Department of the Interior (DoI) Departmental Manual (374 DM 6).

The policy explains how to evaluate and accept donations and when it is appropriate for FWS managers and other employees to solicit and accept donations. It describes which employees are eligible to accept donations. The manual also explains when and how non-federal organizations can raise funds for FWS on FWS territory. It also explains how to provide donors with appropriate recognition.

The manual discusses ethical considerations. This differs from the FWS Manual's own guidance on acquiring real estate by donation or methods other than purchase. The new policy is incorporated as part 212, chapter 8 of FWS' own Service Manual. If you have any questions, contact Janet Bruner at (703) 358-1713.

In 2007, DoI instructed all its agencies to come up with donations policies. The ethics and conduct policies must cover donations of land, other property, services and money as well as procedures for fundraising and soliciting. Several laws allow FWS to take donations, including the Fish & Wildlife Coordination Act, the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (as amended)), the Partnerships for Wildlife Act. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the Migratory Bird Conservation Act (as amended), the National Wildlife Refuge System Volunteer & Community Partnership Enhancement Act (as amended), the Great Lakes Fisheries Act of 1956 and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966. Some authorizing legislation for specific national wildlife refuges also allow donations and fundraising.

Most private fundraising is done by friends groups for specific refuges. FWS proposed the rule last year and received 14 comments. It modified the rule based on suggestions it received and some matters the agency discovered on its own.

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