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2017-2018 Watershed Assistance Grant Program

Grants to Maryland Nonprofits and Agencies for Early-Phase
Watershed Protection and Restoration Projects

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Chesapeake Bay Trust, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)

Deadline Date:

09/22/17 5:00 PM


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Grants ranging from $5,001 to $75,000 to Maryland nonprofit organizations and government agencies for watershed protection and restoration projects that are in the planning and development stage. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate officer in developing a proposal.

The Watershed Assistance Grant Program will offer grants for design of watershed restoration and protection projects or planning and programmatic development projects. Projects should support Watershed Implementation Plan Milestones. Design requests will be accepted for the full suite of nonpoint source best management practices. Planning and programmatic project requests may include watershed characterization, survey, assessment, action plans, studies, program development, or financing strategies that build local capacity.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources and Environment welcome requests from local governments and nonprofit organizations for assistance with the earliest phases of watershed restoration projects. Support is available for watershed restoration project designs and for watershed planning and programmatic development. The ultimate goal of the projects funded through this opportunity will be improved water quality in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Maryland portion of the Youghiogheny watershed, and the Maryland Coastal Bays and, specifically, progress towards goals of the Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) process. This opportunity is intended to enhance local engagement in near-term WIP goals.

About the Watershed Implementation Plan Milestones:

The strategy for restoring the State’s watersheds has involved states and local jurisdictions to identify milestones to be reached in two-year increments. In early 2016, local WIP teams submitted Two-Year Milestones to MDE that identify programmatic and implementation goals they will strive to meet during the 2016-2017 milestone period. In early 2018, local WIP teams will be submitting Two-Year Milestones to MDE for the 2018-2019 milestone period. The local Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) milestones reflect the near-term commitments of Maryland’s partners in the collaborative effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay and local rivers, lakes and streams.

Goal of this Funding Opportunity:

By funding the earliest phases of watershed restoration projects and planning, the funding partners aim to provide local governments and nonprofit organizations the ability to position themselves to quickly advance implementation work. The funding partners hope the products of grants funded under this opportunity (project designs, plans, and other work) will enable grantees to:

-Leverage resulting designs, plans, or projects to craft future proposals for implementation funding to the Maryland Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, grant programs at the Chesapeake Bay Trust, or other sources of support;

-Develop deliverables that will implement Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) strategies;

-Craft proposals for implementation funding through programs at the Chesapeake Bay Trust or other sources of support

All projects must support implementation of local milestones developed to advance the Watershed Implementation Plan strategies. WIP strategies include a wide range of practices and project types, and contributors to these strategies may include a variety of partners and types of lead organizations. For information on the 2016-2017 milestones, please click here; for information on anticipated milestones to be committed to MDE in 2018-2019, please contact your local jurisdiction. Projects that cross watershed boundaries should consider milestones of both jurisdictions. For projects in jurisdictions that have not yet developed Milestones, please contact the Trust.

The Watershed Assistance Grant Program is one element of the State of Maryland’s Watershed Assistance Collaborative. The Watershed Assistance Collaborative includes other opportunities for local governments and non-profit organizations, such as training events and programs for watershed restoration financing and planning.

Types of Eligible Projects:

Two tracks are offered within the Watershed Assistance Grant Program: the Project Design track and the Watershed Planning and Program Development track. The 2016-2017 Milestones were submitted to MDE in January 2016 and should now be reflected in the relevant local jurisdictions’ plans; to the extent possible projects proposed should support or be directly reflected in the current local jurisdiction Milestones. Non-profit applicants should have a letter of support from the local government(s) indicating a willingness to add or reflect the proposed project in Milestones submitted to MDE. Applicants in both tracks are strongly encouraged to contact Trust and Department of Natural Resource (DNR) staff early during project idea development.

Projects or programs that are wholly required by a separate Federal, state, or locally issued permit, decree, or enforcement action cannot be supported through this opportunity. In some cases, funding partners may elect to fund optional portions of required projects that are in excess of regulatory requirements. Applicants with questions on this topic or about how projects can inform or contribute to WIP strategies are encouraged to contact Trust or DNR staff using contact information listed below.

Only projects within the State of Maryland are eligible for this grant opportunity.

In light of the Trust’s goals to engage under-engaged and underrepresented audiences, projects initiated by and/or involving underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged.

Project Design Track:

Applicants may request funding to create buildable designs for specific watershed restoration projects identified in the WIP Milestone commitments submitted or anticipated to be submitted to MDE by local jurisdictions. The strongest design proposals will be linked directly to an existing detailed watershed action plan and will propose deliverables to include 90-100% biddable designs and specifications. The ideal design proposal would request funds to develop 100% design and specifications for the top priority project listed in a more detailed watershed action plan. For projects that are not specifically identified in a more detailed watershed action plan or that are not among the top priority projects, additional justification for project and/or site selection must be provided. A strong design proposal would also take into account land uses upstream of the project and any upstream restoration activities or other changes in land use.

Eligible project types include bioretention cells, large-scale rain gardens, other low impact development stormwater techniques, environmental site designs, stream restoration, wetland and marsh creation, and any of the suite of agricultural water quality best management practices. Although water quality and water quantity problems often intersect, proposed projects that deal solely with water quantity issues will not be competitive in this program.

Each criterion below must be met by the applicant’s proposed project:

-Applicants should indicate whether the project is included in an existing watershed action plan and describe how the project and site were selected. (Justification for environmental outcomes must be provided.) An appropriate watershed action plan should include alternatives analyses for each specific project.

-A conceptual site plan sketch, a map of the drainage area that the proposed design will treat, and a photo of the restoration site must be included. The drainage area map should delineate the location of impervious surfaces, and should also indicate the land use, such as agricultural, residential, or commercial.

-An alternatives analysis must be included. The analysis should outline the different strategies or techniques that were considered for the site in question and the reasons why those strategies were dismissed. If a watershed plan on which the project is based includes an alternatives analysis, feel free to use this information. If a watershed plan does not include a discussion of alternative approaches, new information must be included. Consider where in the watershed a proposed practice is to be placed: e.g., upland closer to the source of nutrient/sediment inputs versus in-stream. Be advised that in-stream projects will likely entail significant permitting requirements.

-A clear justification for the design phase must be included. Why is a separate design step warranted for the project?

-Projects on individually owned private land will be considered. For projects planned on properties owned by an entity other than the applicant, or for which access is required for construction or maintenance, a letter must be attached stating that permission has been granted by each entity owning the affected land. Proposals that demonstrate long-term commitment to keep and maintain the project will receive more favorable reviews.

-A scope of design work with a detailed budget must be included in the request. The deliverable of the grant award should be designs and specifications that are close to 100% complete.

-Qualifications of the group(s) proposed to undertake the design must be described.

-A plan for implementation of the project, including actual or potential sources of funding, must be provided. How and when will the project ultimately be implemented? What is the source of construction funding?

-Vegetation included in designs must be native.

-Preference will be given to projects that sufficiently address land uses upstream of the project and any upstream restoration activities or other changes in land use that may occur.

-Projects on agricultural land should address whether the project is or will be registered with the local Soil Conservation District, and whether state or federal agricultural cost-share funding has been sought or considered. If not, address why not.

-The output of the grant award, i.e., the design and specifications, must be permittable by the Maryland Department of the Environment and all other appropriate local, state, and federal entities. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate department at MDE during the conceptual design phase.

Watershed Planning and Program Development Track:

Applicants may request funding for specific projects identified in the existing Programmatic Milestones submitted to MDE by local jurisdictions or anticipated to be submitted to MDE in the 2018-2019 milestones, including projects addressing legal authority development or enhancement, organizational enhancement, watershed characterization, watershed action plans, or resource enhancement. Watersheds and topics of focus can be predominantly agricultural, urban, suburban, or any combination of these. Planning efforts may focus on one or more of the activities (A-E) found below. Please note that all of the criteria itemized under each area of activity must be answered in the applicant’s proposal to be considered for funding. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Trust, DNR, or MDE staff prior to applying to discuss spatial and geographic scale (for watershed planning projects). The proposal should address one of the following five areas of activity with the ultimate intent of accelerating the reduction of nutrients and sediment loads. For all projects, scopes of work must clearly articulate deliverables and include detailed budget requests. Before submitting a project in the watershed planning and program development track, please determine whether a watershed plan already exists for all or part of your watershed. A partial inventory of watershed plans can be found here under web based resources.

A. Watershed planning – assessment phase

-Funds are available for the following: watershed characterization, watershed survey, and
stakeholder engagement

-Such projects should establish a baseline of watershed conditions from which progress can be
evaluated and create a framework for and identify future restoration and protection actions.

-Applicants must justify selection of the spatial scale, must articulate how the award level is
appropriate to accomplish goals on that spatial scale, and must include a map of the drainage area to be evaluated. Watershed identification may be aided by visiting DNR’s Surf your Watershed. For small study areas, the strongest proposals will demonstrate partnerships with other entities (e.g. county agencies and watershed groups) to ensure that the project integrates with a larger watershed plan.

B. Watershed planning – action plan phase

-Applicants may request funds for watershed action plans in cases in which watershed assessment has been completed or as a second phase of a proposal that includes watershed assessment.

-Applicants must justify selection of the spatial scale, must articulate how the award level is appropriate to accomplish goals on that spatial scale, and must include a map of the drainage area to be evaluated. For small watersheds, strongest proposals will demonstrate partnerships with other entities (e.g. county agencies and watershed groups) to ensure that the project integrates with a larger watershed plan.

-Watershed action plans should include elements such as specific restoration and protection activities, green infrastructure plans, and strategies to anticipate future land use and growth. Watershed action plans should also address expected implementation costs.

-Action plans should include a range of projects at multiple cost scales to maximize potential for accomplishment given the range of funding sources.

-Action plans should include an alternatives analysis for each project, defined as a justification for recommended strategies or restoration techniques based on such factors as 1) total cost, 2) cost per pound of nutrient/sediment reduced or habitat enhanced, and 3) location of installed practice. These justifications should discuss the range of strategies or techniques that were considered and the rationale for choosing the recommended approach for each action project identified.

C. Financing strategies to assist in watershed action plan implementation

-In cases in which watershed assessment has been completed and watershed action plans have been created, funding may be requested through this opportunity to develop financing strategies for the implementation of those watershed action plans.

-Elements that may be the focus of the financing strategy may be restoration project construction, new programs, program enhancements, or other capacity-building needs.

-Proposals should include a description of the spatial scale covered by the financing strategy, and
describe staff/contractor assignments related to restoration activities.

D. Policy Development or Enhancement

-In cases in which watershed assessment has been completed and watershed action plans have been created, funding is available for activities necessary to develop or enhance ordinances or other tools needed to advance local Bay restoration actions.

-Competitive projects will commit to conducting a public review and providing education of a variety of audiences, including elected officials.

E. Organizational Enhancement

-Funding is available for developing new programs, enhancing existing programs (e.g., local implementation accounting process) or establishing new institutional frameworks that promote internal and external stakeholder coordination (workgroups, advisory groups). Examples include development of restoration prioritization strategies; implementation of new technical methods; research and studies to support organizational enhancements; development of written policies, procedures or guidance; creation or implementation of systems to promote accountability; training focused on addressing barriers to and innovative ideas for implementation of nutrient and sediment reduction programs; aspects of compliance monitoring and assistance and of inspections and enforcement programs.

-Applicants must strongly justify the need for any organizational enhancement element for which funding is requested.

-Applicants interested in an organizational enhancement proposal should contact DNR staff listed below.

*For applicants seeking funds for public engagement initiatives to support programmatic milestones please refer to the Trust’s other grant programs that directly address outreach and community engagement activities.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 174372

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Requests will generally be $5,001 - $75,000.

Applicants interested in requests exceeding this level should (a) contact Trust, DNR, or MDE staff to discuss request level prior to submitting a proposal, (b) provide a budget that is scalable in the event that an award is limited (itemize elements and separate project components into independent subtasks where appropriate), and (c) provide an additional justification section in the proposal. Applicants may submit more than one proposal, and combine multiple sub- tasks or sub-projects within one proposal.

Please note: while generally funding requests will be less than $75,000, stream restoration design projects may request up to $200,000.

Term of Contract:

Projects should be completed within approximately one year upon receipt of the grant award.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

The funding partners welcome requests from local government and nonprofit applicants. Please note that project personnel listed on the application as Executive Officer or Project Lead must be staff of or otherwise associated with the applicant organization. Neither role can be filled by staff of for-profit or not-for-profit partner entities. Applications with such listing will be considered incomplete and may be returned to the applicant without review.

By submitting an application to this program, applicants acknowledge that 1) they are compliant with State and federal employment and non-discrimination laws and 2) they have not been debarred, convicted, charged or had a civil judgment rendered against them for fraud or related offense by any government agency (federal, state or local) or been terminated for cause or default by any government agency (federal, state or local).

Pre-Application Information:

A match is encouraged but not required.

Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Trust or DNR staff early during proposal development.

The deadline is September 22, 2017. The application will close promptly at 5:00 PM.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit at least a few days prior to the deadline given potential for high website traffic on the due date.

Contact Information:

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

Apply Online:

While applicants are welcome to contact either of the agencies and individuals identified below with any project type, each individual specializes in certain project areas listed:

Contact for the following project types: project design; watershed assessment; and watershed action planning:

Emily Stransky
Chesapeake Bay Trust
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
(410) 974-2941 ext. 101

Contact for the following project types: project design; watershed assessment; watershed action planning; and financing strategies:

Phillip Stafford
(410) 260-8720

For assistance in identifying potential service providers, or identifying potential community partners, applicants are encouraged to contact the Watershed Restoration Specialist, if available, in their areas.:

Central Maryland (Frederick, Montgomery, Howard and northern Anne Arundel and Prince George’s Counties):

Amanda Rockler

Upper and Central Eastern Shore (Caroline, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot Counties):

Eric Buehl

Southern Maryland (Charles, Calvert, St. Mary’s, and southern Anne Arundel and Prince George’s Counties):

Jackie Takacs

Northern Maryland (Baltimore City, Baltimore, Harford, and Carroll Counties):

Kelsey Brooks

Lower Eastern Shore (Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, Worcester Counties):

Jennifer Dindinger

Western Maryland (Allegany, Garrett, Washington Counties):

Phillip Stafford

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Maryland