Policy Update

States Move Forward With Protecting Endangered Species

March 18, 2024



NCEL Point of Contact

Logan Christian
Wildlife and Habitat Coordinator


Nearly one-third of the nation’s wildlife is at risk of extinction. Despite the successes of the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, many wildlife populations remain at risk. As the impacts of climate change continue to accelerate, states are looking to further protect wildlife through state endangered and threatened species law. These laws offer specialized and comprehensive protection to threatened species while supporting regional and ecosystem-wide cooperation. 

  • Why it matters: Biodiversity is invaluable to a healthy ecosystem. Any loss of biodiversity can result in ecosystem cascades that impact other species as well as human activity. Actions taken before a species becomes endangered can also save the lives of individual species, in addition to saving considerable money, time, and effort. To ensure that our resources are protected for future generations, biodiversity must be promoted and threatened or endangered species must be protected. 

Key Legislation

State leaders are well-equipped to strengthen protections for threatened or endangered species due to their specialized knowledge of their native species. Colorado, Maryland, and Washington are three states that have recently seen major movement of endangered species legislation. 

  • At a glance: This year, at least 17 states are considering endangered species legislation.

Colorado HB24-1117 (Passed House): This bill introduces rare plants and invertebrates to the Nongame, Endangered, or Threatened Species Conservation Act allowing for increased funding, monitoring, and conserving of endangered plants and invertebrates.

Washington SB 5950 (Awaits approval from the Governor): Allocates funds towards a pollinator outreach campaign to further the Department of Agriculture’s pollinator conservation efforts and the pollinator health task force goals.

Maryland HB 345 (Passed House): Expands the definition of species that can qualify as endangered species, requires the Department of Natural Resources to review whether any new species need to be listed at least once every five years, and allows interested persons to submit a petition requesting that a species be listed as endangered. 

Bill Sponsors

Colorado’s HB24-1117 is sponsored by Representative Karen McCormick, Representative Matt Soper, and Senator Janice Marchman.

Maryland’s HB 345 is sponsored by Delegate Julie Palakovich Carr and Delegate Mary Lehman. 

Washington’s SB 5950 is sponsored by Senator June Robinson, Senator T’wina Nobles, and Senator Yasmin Trudeau

Digging Deeper

NCEL’s 2023 A Natural Legacy for the Future: State Endangered Species Laws (SESA’s) highlights what is and isn’t working across states and spotlights innovative case studies of species recovery. To learn more about how state endangered species acts can be successful, see NCEL’s Tale of the River Otter.