Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO)
Grants to Washington cities, counties, nonprofit nature conservatories, and the State Conservation Commission to assist with forestland acquisition and habitat restoration or enhancement. Funding is also intended to assist applicants with the purchase of a voluntary land preservation agreement.
The Forestland Preservation Grant Program provides funding to lease or buy voluntary land preservation agreements (also called conservation easements) for forests to ensure the lands remain available for timber production in the future.
A secondary purpose is to support other benefits of preserving forestland such as jobs, recreation, protection of water and soil resources, habitat for wildlife, and scenic beauty.
The program is part of the larger Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which was created in 1990 to buy land for outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation. In 2016, the state Legislature expanded the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program to include preservation of forestland with the goal of supporting working forests that also provide connectivity, habitat enhancement, sustainable ecological benefits, and public access.
- Buying a conservation easement or lease for a forest threatened with development
- In conjunction with a conservation easement or lease, restoring stream corridors to support clean water and fish habitat
Definition of Forestland:
The following types of forests are eligible: industrial, private, community, tribal, and publicly owned forests. The land must be devoted primarily to timber production and must be enrolled in a county’s open space or forestland property tax program.
The open space and forestland property tax programs have similar definitions but differ in purpose.
Open Space Program:
The open space property tax program designates timberlands for the production of forest crops to assure the use and enjoyment of natural resources and scenic beauty for the economic and social well-being of the state and its citizens.
The forestland property tax program designates lands to enhance water supply; minimize soil erosion and storm and flood damage to people or property; provide habitat for wild game; provide scenic and recreational spaces; contribute to the natural ecological equilibrium; contribute to employment and profits; and contribute raw materials for products needed by everyone.
Forestland is a contiguous 5 or more acres that are devoted primarily to the growth and harvest of timber for commercial purposes. Both programs mean the land only and do not include a residential homesite. The terms include land used for incidental uses that are compatible with the growing and harvesting of timber but no more than 10 percent of the land may be used for such incidental uses. They also include the land on which appurtenances necessary for the production, preparation, or sale of the timber products exist in conjunction with land producing these products.
- Land acquisition through easements or leases (required for all projects). Public access is not required.
- Habitat enhancement or restoration, in conjunction with land acquisition. These activities must further the ecological functions of the forestland: Installing fences or bridges; replanting native vegetation; replacing culverts
- Combination of land acquisition and restoration or enhancement
Definition of Acquisition:
An acquisition grant from RCO may be used to buy real property for a variety of outdoor recreation, habitat conservation, and salmon recovery purposes. Real property is defined as land, crops, timber, mineral and water rights, land improvements, and structures and appurtenances to them, excluding movable machinery and equipment.
Definition of Restoration:
Restoration project brings a site back to its historic function as part of a natural ecosystem or improves the ecological functionality of a site. The result of a restoration project will be habitat that is self-sustaining, which means it does not require continual intervention to function as a natural ecosystem. Restoration can be accomplished as a stand-alone project or as part of a larger project that focuses on acquisition or development.
Projects must include correcting all fish passage barriers on property owned by a private, small forest landowner not otherwise required by the Forest Practices Act. Grant recipients also are required to do a baseline inventory of the condition of the property.
Please refer to Manual 10c for more information regarding acquisition projects, habitat enhancement or restoration projects, and combination projects.
For combination projects, preliminary costs necessary to get a project ready for the construction phase (i.e. architecture and engineering, permits) are allowable for reimbursement. The sponsor may not incur any construction cost before the period of performance in the agreement, unless approved by the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. See Manual 5, Restoration Projects for further information.
The Recreation and Conservation Funding Board requires all organizations wishing to apply for a grant for the first time to submit a legal opinion that the applicant is eligible to accomplish all of the following:
- Receive and expend public funds including funds from the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board.
- Contract with the State of Washington and the United States of America.
- Meet any statutory definitions required for board grant programs.
- Acquire and manage interests in real property for conservation or outdoor recreation purposes.
- Develop and/or provide stewardship for structures or facilities eligible under board rules or policies.
- Undertake planning activities incidental thereto.
- Commit the applicant to statements made in any grant proposal.
GrantWatch ID#: 182653
The maximum grant request amount is $350,000. There is no minimum grant amount.
Grant recipients must develop milestones for project implementation and complete the project within
4 years of the grant award.
Who can apply?
- Nonprofit nature conservancies
- State Conservation Commission
Nonprofit nature conservancies must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Be registered in the State of Washington as a nonprofit corporation as defined by Chapter 24.03 Revised Code of Washington AND meet the definition for a nonprofit nature conservancy in Revised Code of Washington 84.34.250.
- Demonstrate at least 3 years actively managing projects relevant to the types of projects eligible for funding in the forestland category. “Actively managing projects” means performing the tasks necessary to manage on-the-ground forestland management functions, such as negotiating for acquisition of property rights, closing on an acquisition, developing and implementing management plans, designing and implementing projects, securing and managing the necessary funds regardless of fund source, and other tasks.
- Demonstrate a proven ability to draft, acquire, monitor, enforce, and defend conservation easements.
- Acquisition: Of rights for a term of less than perpetuity; of land already owned by the grant applicant or sponsor; of properties acquired via a condemnation action of any kind; of land to satisfy a Habitat Conservation Plan under the Endangered Species Act
- Transfer of development rights
- Restoration work required under the Forest Practices Act or other regulatory mitigation requirement, except as described under the Fish Passage Barriers section
- “Consumable” supplies such as fuel, fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides, except as a one-time application if they are necessary parts of otherwise eligible acquisition or restoration activities
- Elements that cannot be defined as fixtures or capital items
- Environmental cleanup of illegal activities (i.e. meth labs)
- Indoor facilities
- Purchase of maintenance equipment, tools, or supplies
- Restoration work done before a grant agreement is signed
- Routine operation and maintenance costs
- Utility payments such as monthly water or electric bills
Please refer to the Manual 10c for information regarding public access, permitted uses, and prohibited uses of the land.
- Applications Due: May 1, 2018
- Technical Review: May 16-17, 2018
- Technical Completion Deadline: July 6, 2018
- Project Evaluation: August 22-23, 2018
- Board Meeting – Lists Approved: October 17-18, 2018
- Board Meeting – Grants Awarded for grants submitted in 2017: July 2018; for grants submitted in 2018: June 2019
The grant process, from application to grant award, spans 18 months, and is outlined above.
Webinars: RCO conducts workshop Webinars (an online meeting) in the winter or early spring to provide information about the grant programs offered that year.
Entering Applications: RCO strongly encourages applicants to start the online application early. PRISM Online is usually open by March 1st.
Cities, counties, and nonprofit nature conservancies must provide a one-to-one matching share. There is no match requirement for the Washington State Conservation Commission. Match may include, but is not limited to the following:
- Appropriations or cash
- Conservation futures
- Corrections labor
- Donations of cash, land, labor, equipment, and materials
- Federal, state, local, and private grants
- Applicant’s labor, equipment, and materials
Refer to Manual 10c for more information regarding ineligible match and match requirements.
RCO does not pay the grant up-front, except in rare cases. Grants are paid to sponsors as reimbursements for their expenditures, and are based on percentages in the project agreement
- Please refer to Manual 3 for more information on Acquisition Projects.
- Please refer to Manual 5 for more information on Restoration Projects.
- Please refer to Manual 7 for more information on long-term obligations.
- Please refer to Manual 8 for more information on reimbursements.
Please note that attached documents are from 2017 and are for reference only. Revised documents may be ready in 2018 on the URL.
For more information on grant schedule:
For more information on the grant application process:
For more information on grant application materials:
For more information on grant forms:
For more information on reimbursement:
Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.
For online application:
Marguerite Austin, Outdoor Grants Section Manager
Recreation and Conservation Office
PO Box 40917
Olympia, WA 98504-0917
Recreation and Conservation Office
1111 Washington Street S.E.
Olympia, Washington 98501
Telephone: (360) 902-3000
TTY: (360) 902-1996