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Surface Water Grants - Lake Protection

Grants to Wisconsin Nonprofits and Agencies to Protect
and Restore Lake Water Quality and Ecosystems

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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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Grants to Wisconsin government agencies, nonprofit conservation organizations, lake associations, and special purpose districts for the protection and restoration of lakes. Applications are invited for projects that enhance water quality, species habitat, and other lake ecosystems elements.

There are four basic Lake Protection subprograms:
-Fee simple or Easement Land Acquisition
-Wetland and Shoreline Habitat Restoration
-Lake Classification and Local Ordinance Development
-Lake Plan implementation
-Healthy Lakes

Land/Easement Acquisition

Grants under this subprogram are intended for the acquisition of property or property rights (also called easements) to protect lakes and their ecosystems. Land acquisition projects are reviewed and processed by DNR environmental grant specialists. All other types of surface water protection grant projects are reviewed by DNR Lake and River Grant Coordinators.

Eligible Costs:
-The fair market value of the property as determined by DNR-approved appraisals
-Cost of appraisal(s)
-and survey fees
-Relocation payments
-Land stabilization
-Title insurance and gap insurance
-Recording fees
-Historical and cultural assessments (if required by the DNR)
-Baseline documentation for natural resources (required for conservation easements)
-Environmental inspections and audits
-Attorney fees not to exceed $2,000
-Closing costs
-Building demolition may be an eligible cost based on the degree to which the demolition contributes to lake protection or restoration.

Wetland and Shoreline Habitat Restoration

Wetland and shoreland habitat restoration grants are intended to provide financial assistance to protect or improve the water quality or natural ecosystem of a lake by restoring adjacent degraded wetlands or tributary to lakes. Shoreline habitat restoration grants are intended to provide financial assistance, including incentive payments, to owners of developed lake front lots to re-establish riparian habitat.

Eligible Projects:
-Development of plans, specifications and environmental assessment, including pre- and post- engineering and design costs.
-Construction, earth moving, or structure removal costs.
-Native plant stock or seeds for re-establishing vegetation.
-Incentive payments per landowner not to exceed $250.
-Public meetings and education and promotional materials, mailing and similar costs related to the distribution of information about restoration.
-Necessary monitoring in order to measure success in achieving the ecologic function of restoration activities.
-Purchase of fee simple or easement land acquisition on which wetland restoration activities will take place. The cost of preparing and filing deed restrictions on the property where restoration will take place.
-Labor costs required to carry out activities identified in the grant agreement including technical
-Other costs determined by the DNR as necessary to carry out a successful wetland or shoreline habitat restoration.
-Water regulatory permits required for the project. Reasonable planning, engineering and design costs necessary to complete the permit application incurred within 12 months prior to the application deadline become eligible for reimbursement for projects awarded a grant.
-Technical assistance provided to individuals seeking building permits if the intent is to improve the site’s habitat conditions or comply with mitigation conditions.

Lake Management Plan Implementation

Lake management plan implementation grant provides financial assistance to eligible applicants that have completed a lake management plan to implement the plan’s DNR-approved recommendations.

Eligible Projects:

Typical projects will include watershed or shoreland best management practices (BMPs) for nonpoint source pollution control or in-lake restoration actions like an alum treatment. s. NR 154, Wis. Admin. Code, Best Management Practices (BMP) and Cost Share Conditions, provide DNR grant policy on the implementation of 42 nonpoint source pollution control practices. These have been established in partnership with other state and federal agencies and approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency as part of the State’s Nonpoint Source Program Management Plan. Adherence to these BMPs assures eligibility for federal cost-share funds and the ability to use state-funded projects as match Clean Water Act Section 319 funds received by the DNR.

Providing grant funding for lake restoration activities that improve the recreational or environmental values of a lake are defined as natural resource enhancement services under s. NR 1.91, Wis. Admin. Code. Grant funding for these services can only be provided for lake and river projects where the public has been afforded a minimum level of public boating access as defined in s. NR 1.91(4) d. Typical projects funded by surface water grants that fall into this category are “in-water” activities such as aeration, aquatic plant management, alum treatments, bio-manipulation, drawdown, fish stocking and fishery rehabilitation, habitat restoration, and hypolimnetic withdrawal. An additional eligibility requirement for funding these activities is that the sources or causative factors of the problems to be remediated should have been or very likely will be controlled prior to implementation.

Habitat improvement or protection activities or any other type of project that will work toward protecting or improving lakes and lake ecosystems may be eligible as long as the recommendation presented in the lake management plan has been officially approved by the DNR. An application for all necessary permits must be filed with the DNR by the date on which a grant application is submitted.

Eligible Costs:
-Construction, labor, materials, supplies, laboratory costs related to eligible activities.
-Planning and engineering, landscape or construction design plans and specifications that is necessary to determine appropriate options and recommendations for lake protection improvement.
-Other costs as approved by the DNR and necessary for implementing a recommendation in an approved lake management plan.

Healthy Lakes Projects

The Healthy Lakes grants are a sub-set of Plan Implementation Grants intended as a way to fund increased installation of select best management practices (BMPs) on waterfront properties without the burden of developing a complex lake management plan. Details on the select best practices can be found in the Wisconsin Healthy Lakes Implementation Plan and best practice fact sheets.

Eligible Projects:

Eligible best practices with pre-set funding limits are defined in the Wisconsin Healthy Lakes Implementation Plan, which local sponsors can adopt by resolution and/or integrate into their own local planning efforts. By adopting the Wisconsin Healthy Lakes Implementation Plan, your lake organization is immediately eligible to implement the specified best practices. Additional technical information for each of the eligible practices is described in associated factsheets.

The intent of the Healthy Lakes grants is to fund shovel-ready projects that are relatively inexpensive and straight-forward. The Healthy Lakes grant category is not intended for large, complex projects, particularly those that may require engineering design.

Eligible Costs:

Best practices in the Wisconsin Healthy Lakes Implementation Plan are defined for each of 3 zones on a typical developed lake shore residential lot identified.

-Zone 1 (shallow near shore water) includes fish sticks, a practice that places trees in the water to improve fish and aquatic life habitat and protect shorelines;
-Zone 2 (transition) includes various 350 square foot native planting plots and diversion practices to improve habitat and slow runoff;
-Zone 3 (upland) includes rain gardens, diversion practices and rock infiltration practices as eligible best practices to manage runoff from structures and other impervious surfaces.

Technical assistance costs may be reimbursed not to exceed 10% of the state share of project costs.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 146948

Estimated Size of Grant:

-Land/Easement Acquisition: Maximum grant funding will not to exceed $200,000.
-Wetland and Shoreline Habitat Restoration: Maximum grant funding will not exceed $100,000
-Lake Management Plan Implementation: Maximum grant amount is $200,000.
-Healthy Lakes Projects: Maximum grant funding will not exceed $25,000.

Term of Contract:

Healthy Lakes Projects: Grants run for a 2-year time period.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible Applicants:
-Counties, cities, towns and villages
-Federally recognized tribal governing body
-Other local governmental units as defined in s. 66.0131(1)(a), Wis Stats.
-Public Inland Lake Protection & Rehabilitation Districts
-Town sanitary districts
-Qualified lake associations
-Qualified nonprofit conservation organizations

Land/Easement Acquisition - Ineligible Costs:
-Acquisition of any property that is subject to a reversionary right or has restrictions or covenants which would prevent the property from being managed for purposes consistent with this grant program
-Land acquired through eminent domain or condemnation; projects where landowners were not treated fairly and negotiations were not conducted on a willing buyer-willing seller basis
-Acquisition of land on which a dam is located
-Environmental clean-up costs
-Brokerage fees paid by the buyer
-Real estate transfer taxes
-Any other cost not identified as eligible above

Wetland and Shoreline Habitat Restoration - Ineligible Projects:
-Environmental cleanup,
-Costs of actual restoration that is intended to comply with a regulatory action, including wetland or shoreland mitigation projects.

Pre-Application Information:

Maximum amount of grant funding is 75% of total costs.

Applications are due February 1.

Application Tutorial Video:

More information about Healthy Lakes may be found here:

Healthy Lakes Initiative Webinar Recording:

Contact Information:

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

Mail applications to:
Department of Natural Resources - CF/2
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921

Hand deliver applications to:
101 S Webster St
Madison WI 53703

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Wisconsin