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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:

09/27/18 4:00 PM


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Grants ranging from $5,001 to $75,000 to Maryland nonprofits and government agencies for watershed protection and restoration projects that are in the planning and development stage. Support is available for watershed planning and programmatic development and for watershed restoration project designs.

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.

The strategy for restoring the watersheds has involved states and local jurisdictions to identify Milestones to be reached in two-year increments. In early 2018, local WIP teams submitted Two-Year Milestones to MDE for the 2018-2019 Milestone period. For information on the 2018-2019 Milestones, go to

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 the local rivers, lakes and streams.

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 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;

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. Projects that cross watershed boundaries should consider Milestones of both jurisdictions. For projects in jurisdictions that have not yet developed Milestones, jurisdictions can submit new milestones and updates to existing milestones prior to the close of this grant solicitation. New or modified milestone submissions should be sent to MDE directly.

Non-profit applicants should have a letter of commitment from the local government(s) indicating a willingness to add or reflect the proposed project in Milestones submitted to MDE. 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 the contact information listed below.

The Trust is committed to the advancement of diversity and inclusion in its grant-making and environmental work. As a result, the Trust strongly encourages grant applications directly from under-represented groups and
for projects that increase awareness and participation of communities that are traditionally under-represented, such as communities of color.

The Trust funds two types of projects in this program: the Project Design track and the Watershed Planning and Program Development track. Applicants in both tracks are strongly encouraged to contact Trust and Department of Natural Resource (DNR) staff early during project idea development.

Project Type 1 – Project Design
Applicants may request funding to create construction-ready 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 proposal will request funds to develop 100% design(s) and specifications for the top priority project(s) listed in an existing detailed watershed action plan. For projects that are not specifically identified in a 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. Vegetation included in designs must be native.

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

Project Type 2 – Watershed Planning and Program Development
Applicants may request funding for specific projects identified in the existing Programmatic Milestones submitted to MDE by local jurisdictions, including projects addressing legal authority development or enhancement, organizational enhancement, watershed characterization, watershed action plans, or resource enhancement. Local entities may use these funds to help establish local area planning goals and/or to support their participation in the jurisdictions’ planning efforts to advance Phase III WIP goals. 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 or DNR 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.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 174372

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Requests will generally be $5,001 - $75,000. Stream restoration design projects may request up to $200,000.

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).

Ineligible budget items include, but are not limited to:
- Costs associated with lobbying and political activity.
- 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, with the exception of goals in relation to the WIPs (see above). In some cases, funding partners may elect to fund optional portions of required projects that are in excess of regulatory requirements.

Pre-proposal Conference:

The Trust and DNR will be holding a training for potential applicants to learn more about the Watershed Assistance Grant Program, expectations for designs, and the DNR Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund grant program, which many applicants apply to for implementation funding. If you are interested in attending the training and would like to receive more information when it is available, please reach out to Emily Stransky or Phillip Stafford.

Pre-Application Information:

Applicants must submit proposals using the online grants system by 4 PM on Thursday, September 27, 2018. Late applications will not be accepted, and the online funding opportunity will close automatically and promptly at 4 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. The Trust cannot guarantee availability of technical assistance for the online grants system on the deadline date.

All applicants will receive an e-mailed letter stating the Trust’s decision, typically by Mid-December.

Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Trust or DNR staff early during proposal development. While applicants are welcome to contact either of the agencies and individuals identified in Contact Information below with any project type, each individual specializes in certain project areas listed.

Cash and in-kind match are not required, but are encouraged. Preference will be given to projects showing matching contributions of funds or in-kind services from project partners and other sources.

Forms and policies:

Contact Information:

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

Apply online:

Contact for the following project types:
- Project design
- Watershed assessment
- Watershed action planning

Emily Stransky, Grant Manager
Chesapeake Bay Trust
(410) 974-2941 ext. 101

Contact for the following project types:
- Project design
- Watershed assessment
- Watershed action planning
- Financing strategies

Phillip Stafford
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
(410) 260-8720

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Maryland