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Coastal Zone Grant

Grants to Pennsylvania Nonprofits, Agencies, Schools,
and IHEs for Environmental Conservation in Coastal Areas

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Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Coastal Resources Management (CRM) Program

Deadline Date:

10/16/17 4:00 PM


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Grants of up to $50,000 to Pennsylvania nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools, and IHEs for the conservation of natural resources in designated coastal areas. Applicants must attend a meeting with program staff prior to applying. Primary focus areas include wetlands, public access for recreation, coastal hazard areas, nonpoint source pollution, ocean resources and biodiversity, and intergovernmental coordination.

CRM receives an annual grant award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This award provides for a portion of the funds to be used for eligible projects that address one or more of the priority areas of the CRM program. The funds are distributed through sub-grant awards to state and local government agencies as well as nonprofit groups located in or having facilities in the Delaware Estuary or Lake Erie Coastal Zones.


Pennsylvania has two coastal areas: 112 miles of coastline along the Delaware Estuary and 77 miles of coastline along Lake Erie:

-Delaware Estuary – Lies within Bucks, Philadelphia and Delaware counties. The coastal zone also contains islands, marshes and shorelands of tributary streams that are tidally influenced. The combined facilities of the Delaware Estuary comprise the largest freshwater port in the world.

-Lake Erie – Located within Erie County and includes the shorelines of major tributaries. The coastal zone also extends to the middle of the lake, to the boundary with Canada and inland an average of 1.4 miles. The Lake also contains Presque Isle Bay and is one of the state ports for international shipping.

In order to safeguard these resources from future adverse impacts, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, acting through the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), developed a unified approach to act as trustee to conserve and maintain the natural resources of Pennsylvania’s coastal regions known as the Pennsylvania Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP). The CZMP was finalized and approved in September 1980, under the authority of the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce. DEP’s Compacts and Commissions Office manages the Coastal Resources Management (CRM) Program in the two defined coastal areas within Pennsylvania.

As a result of the adopted CZMP, annual grants are provided to DEP by the Office for Coastal Management (OCM), NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Grant awards are used to implement the CRM Program and provide a grant-in-aid program if sufficient funds permit. Monies are dispersed to fund projects within the coastal zone and coastal non-point pollution boundaries, such as planning, design, engineering, education, outreach, construction, acquisition and research as authorized by Section 306A of the CZMA, as amended.

Primary Focus Areas:
-Coastal Hazard Areas: Pennsylvania's coastal hazards are defined as bluff recession along Lake Erie and coastal flooding in both coastal zones.
-Wetlands: Involves the protection, enhancement and creation of coastal wetlands in order to maintain benefits for wildlife habitat, flood control, water quality, water flow stabilization and environmental diversity (biodiversity).
-Public access for recreation: Efforts are required to meet the public need for boating, fishing, walking, picnicking, sightseeing and other recreational pursuits associated with the waterfront.
-Intergovernmental coordination: Includes intergovernmental efforts to protect Pennsylvania’s coastal resources, especially the quality of air and water.
-Ocean resources/biodiversity: Efforts directed toward the research, study, and/or management of non-native (invasive) aquatic or terrestrial plant and/or animal species.
-Coastal Non-Point Source Pollution Program: Activities that protect coastal waters from non-point source pollution resulting from marinas and recreational boating, urban activities, hydro-modifications and agriculture.

Additional Focus Areas:
-Public involvement: Increase awareness, provide information and create opportunities for public participation in a variety of coastal issues.
-Fisheries management: Efforts to protect and improve stocks of popular game-fish species and mussel hosts.
-Historic sites and structures: Preservation, restoration and enhancement of coastally significant historic sites and structures within the coastal zones.
-Port activities: Development and enhancement of coastal port infrastructure.
-Energy facilities siting: Energy-producing facilities are vital to society but improper siting (placement) can be damaging to fragile coastal ecosystems.
-Dredging and spoil disposal: Careful management to avoid adverse effects on navigation, flood-flow capacity, public interest and environmental quality. *Note: coastal zone (CZ) funds cannot be used to pay for actual dredging operations.

Section 312 Evaluation Metrics:

In 2012, Pennsylvania’s CRM Program, in cooperation with NOAA, established three new metrics that are used to evaluate the progress of program implementation on a five year basis. These metrics relate to specific priority areas that CRM and NOAA have determined to be of vital importance to Pennsylvania’s coastal zones and worthy of elevated program emphasis: habitat connectivity, tidal wetlands and shoreline public access. Being formally designated CRM priorities, NOAA will evaluate the CRM Program as required under Section 312 of the CZMA. A key component of the evaluation will be based on the program’s success in achieving the goals described in the metrics below. CRM’s grant-scoring procedures prioritize projects that will directly result in reportable, measureable outcomes related to one or more of these new metrics.

1. Habitat Connectivity (Delaware Estuary and Lake Erie Coastal Zones)

Goal: Develop, maintain and protect wildlife corridors that facilitate ecosystem connectivity, mitigate fragmentation and improve biodiversity.

The Commonwealth places a high priority on ecosystem connectivity and wildlife corridors because of the vital roles they play in wildlife migration, preserving green spaces, building resiliency and fostering biodiversity. To be counted towards this priority, a project must impart identifiable habitat and ecosystem value relating to connectivity or fragmentation mitigation. The project must achieve one or more of the following: create patches of new greenspace; connect existing patches with greenspace corridors; or contain design elements specifically intended to restore or facilitate wildlife passage and/or hydrologic connections.

Examples of connectivity projects are those that:
-Remove existing barriers to wildlife passage. (Example: Removal of an elevated stream culvert and restoration to streambed to facilitate fish and macroinvertebrate passage.)
-Create or protect greenspace corridors and/or hydrologic connections between new or existing patches. (Example: Land acquisition for the development of a nature trail between two existing parks.)

2. Tidal Wetlands (Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone)

Goal: Increase the total acreage (extent) of estuarine and freshwater tidal wetlands within Bucks, Philadelphia and Delaware Counties.

Freshwater tidal wetlands are a top priority in the Delaware River Estuary and have been historically heavily impacted as less than 5 percent of pre-colonial acreage remains. Current wetland creation opportunities exist by coordinating with local groups toward redeveloping the urban waterfront. This priority only includes acreage created in excess of permitted fills and may include wetlands established by removal of historical fills.

3. Shoreline Public Access (Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone)

Goal: Maximize the public’s ability to access waterfront areas within the Delaware River Estuary and its selected tidal tributaries.

CRM values its responsibility to ensure public access to rivers and streams in the Delaware Estuary. This priority seeks to increase shoreline mileage that is publicly accessible along tidal portions of the following waterways: Delaware River, Schuylkill River, Darby Creek, Cobbs Creek, Neshaminy Creek, Chester Creek, Crum Creek, Frankford/Tacony Creek, Pennypack Creek, Poquessing Creek, Mill Creek, Biles Creek, Martin’s Creek, Marcus Hook Creek and Ridley Creek.

Keystone Principles for Growth, Investment and Resource Conservation:

The Keystone Principles and Criteria are used by state agencies to guide investment and support local growth and economic development across the state. The core criteria, listed below, are give consideration by all commonwealth agencies when making grant decisions.

-Redevelop first – Rehabilitation/redevelopment of brownfield areas.
-Provide efficient infrastructure – Use and improve existing infrastructure.
-Concentrate development – Support integrated development that conserves land.
-Increase job opportunities – Retain and attract a diverse, educated workforce.
-Foster sustainable businesses – Energy production and use of natural resources.
-Restore and enhance the environment – Preserve and expand land, air and water protection.
-Enhance recreational and heritage resources – Improve recreational and heritage assets.
-Expand housing opportunities – Support construction and rehab of all housing types.
-Plan regionally; implement locally – Support multi-municipal planning and implementation.
-Be fair – Support equitable sharing of benefits/burdens of development.

Project Locations:

Projects must be located entirely within the Coastal Non-Point Pollution Boundary as defined in this guidance. All construction and acquisition projects must be located entirely within the CZ (306A) Boundary without exception. Maps illustrating the boundaries are located in Appendix E of this guidance.

Project Requirements - All projects must:
-Be environmentally sound and consistent with current state, regional, county and local ordinances and plans.
-Obtain applicable federal, state and local permits for all construction (306A) projects before any construction may commence.
-Obtain concurrence of any municipal government whose approval is required for project implementation, via letter of support or resolution, if the applicant is a non governmental agency.
-Benefit the public at large and may not be for the purpose of private gain, benefit or profits.
-Be made available and useful to all members of the general public; therefore cannot be for exclusive use of any particular group of persons.
-Be accessible to persons in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Eligible Projects:

CZ grants may be applied to a wide variety of studies, plans, designs, research, acquisition and construction projects pertaining to one or more of the established program policies, which guide the competitive selection process.

Examples of some typical project proposals are as follows:
-Efforts to educate the public regarding issues of environmental protection, non-point source water pollution, protection of coastal resources or efforts to promote such action to the public.
-Preparation or revision of local comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances, sub-division regulations and special ordinances containing provisions in support of CRM Program policies.
-Projects furthering flood control, stormwater management, non-point source water pollution control, shoreline erosion and bluff recession control, wetland preservation and other natural resource protection.
-Plans, studies or other projects to improve port facilities and infrastructure, future use of coastal ports or providing public access for recreational use of docks, piers and wharves.
-Improving resource management and environmental protection programs at the state or local level, including disseminating information or providing technical assistance to coastal communities and the public.
-Plans, studies or projects that enhance economic development within the coastal zone, including activities to help economically revitalize under-used coastal and/or port facilities.
-Studies for interpretation and enhancement of coastal features and habitats and restoration and preservation of historic coastal sites and structures.
-Land acquisition of coastal properties, including real estate appraisals, to improve or provide for public recreational access or open-space preservation. If awarded, grantee must wait for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) approval from NOAA and notification from DEP.
-Preparation of designs, engineering plans and specifications for coastal recreational sites owned or legally controlled by a ‘government’ applicant.
-Low-cost (defined by NOAA as no more than a total project cost of $100,000) construction projects for recreational access facilities or for rehabilitating significant historic buildings and structures located within the designated coastal zones. *Note: rehabilitation work on buildings and structures should be supported by a structural feasibility study, architectural assessment, engineering plans or similar planning products included as part of the application.

Act 47 Financially Distressed Communities Act Status:

Preference will be given to applicants that are approved distressed municipalities under Act 47, the Financially Distressed Municipalities Act of 1987. Such a municipality must be identified on the Department of Community and Economic Development’s website to be eligible. This status will be verified at the time the grant applications are scored.

Reimbursable Expenses:

Reimbursable expenses are items that directly related to the project and may be reimbursed through CRM. Types of allowable expenditures include:
-Salaries and Wages
-Fringe Benefits
-Travel expenses - based on the rate used by state agencies
-Purchase of materials and supplies
-Purchase or use of equipment
-Use of a consultant or contractor
-Other items associated with the project

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 138278

Estimated Size of Grant:

A $50,000 grant limit is generally imposed on any single project. Applicants with proposals requesting more than $50,000 in grant funding should discuss funding alternatives with CRM program staff before submitting an application.

Term of Contract:

Grants are contracted to begin with the start of the federal fiscal year on October 1 and terminate 18 months later.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible Applicants:
-Local governments – counties and municipalities.
-Area-wide agencies – county and regional planning agencies.
-State agencies.
-Educational institutions – school districts, colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning.
-Conservation districts, port authorities and public authorities.
-Incorporated nonprofit, including 501(c)(3), organizations that are eligible to receive federal grants.

The following types of projects are not considered eligible project activities:
-Conventional restroom facilities
-General recreation and athletic facilities such as playgrounds, ball fields/courts, etc.
-Roadway design and construction
-Water and sewer line construction
-Dredging operations
-Permit application fees
-Projects required to fulfill a state or federal permit condition or other regulatory action

Expenses Not Reimbursed By CRM:
-Project-related costs incurred prior to the start date of the grant period of performance, generally prior to October 1st of year one of the project term;
-Project-related costs incurred after the project completion date of the grant agreement period of performance;
-Costs associated with fund-raising activities;
-Costs not directly related to performing the CRM-approved project scope of work, except as allowed as ‘in-kind service value’;
-Costs associated with ‘hospitality’ activities such as food and beverages;
-Costs associated with the bidding and bonding requirements of the Municipal Planning Code and the Uniform Construction Code;
-Costs for monuments or memorials;
-Costs for flagpoles, fountains and other ornamental treatments; and
-Costs for political and/or lobbying activities.

*Note: Other ineligible costs may apply and while many of these items cannot be reimbursed by CRM, they may still be used as match. Please contact central office or the appropriate regional CRM coordinator to verify.

Pre-Application Information:

Matching funds are required on a one-to-one matching basis; this means that each dollar of CZ funds must be matched by at least one dollar from cash or acceptable non-cash sources, although match provided in excess of the one-to-one ratio is encouraged.

Note: funds contributed from all other federal grant programs may not be applied as match, except Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

A Commonwealth SAP number is preferred on the application and required if selected as a grantee. It can take up to two weeks to get a SAP number, so plan accordingly.

Note: For the FY 2018 grant round, CRM is requiring all applicants to attend a one-on-one meeting to discuss their proposed project details, Coastal Zone grant application changes and the new grants application portal.

The solicitation period for the FFY 2018 Coastal Zone grants will open August 14, 2017, and close October 16, 2017.

Applicants are notified the following summer as to status of their grant application. Applications for grant funding are accepted a full year before project work may begin. Please consider this timeline in project planning.

Application Process Timeline:

August, Year 1:
-Solicitation period for the next CZ grant round opens
-Pre application workshops held
-One-on-one meetings with applicants offered

October, Year 1:
-Solicitation period for the CZ grant round closes
-Applications are reviewed to determine completeness and eligibility; CRM will notify the applicant if additional information is required

November, Year 1:
-Applicants are requested to appear before their local advisory committee to make a brief presentation and answer questions pertaining to their project proposal
-Local advisory committee members will review and rank submitted CZ applications and provide funding recommendations to CRM

January, Year 2:
-CRM staff meets to discuss, assess and review the project applications and recommendations made by the local advisory committees

Spring, Year 2:
CRM submits funding recommendations to NOAA; NOAA may disallow a project, place conditions on it or ask for additional information during this time

Fall, Year 2:
-CRM will announce the awarded CZ projects
-Grant agreements will be executed
-Project activity may commence on Oct. 1(normally)
-Post award workshops held

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

The online eGrants application is available at:

If you require technical assistance in completing your application, please contact DCED’s Customer Service Center:

(800) 379-7448

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Compacts and Commissions Office
Coastal Resources Management
400 Market St., P.O. Box 8465
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8465

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Pennsylvania: Coastal Non-Point Pollution Boundary