In December of 2022, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced $33.8 million in grant awards to support the restoration and conservation of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
NFWF and EPA representatives joined local leaders and community members at Truxtun Park in Annapolis, Maryland to announce the awards.
The 104 grants will leverage more than $30 million in matching contributions to generate a total restoration impact of more than $64 million.
The grants were awarded through the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant Program (INSR) and the Small Watershed Grants (SWG) Programs, core grant programs of the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program partnership that are administered under NFWF’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund (CBSF).
CBSF is a partnership between NFWF and EPA to provide grant funding, technical assistance, and networking and information sharing in support of local, on-the-ground conservation and restoration efforts to restore the bay and its tributary rivers and streams.
The 104 grants will support innovative and community-led approaches to reduce pollution to local rivers and streams, restore habitats, and improve rural and urban communities across the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
These projects will further emphasize partnerships and collaborative approaches as central to effective local and regional ecosystem restoration efforts and engagement of local communities in the planning, design, and implementation of restoration and conservation efforts.
The awards include $15 million provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds, which is a first set of awards from the infrastructure funding, with more to be announced soon.
Additional federal agency funding for CBSF is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Private funding is provided by Altria Group, Zoetis, and Astra Zeneca, with additional funding this year from the Bezos Earth Fund.
“This funding not only helps kickstart critical water quality programs within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, it represents an investment in public health and the communities who call the Bay home,” said Janet McCabe, EPA’s Deputy Administrator.
“Our partnerships and collaborative approaches bring farmers, homeowners, communities, businesses and local leaders together as a team, working in partnership to reduce pollution, improve water quality, and revitalize their communities,” she added.
The funds will help partners engage community-based organizations, farmers and agricultural producers, homeowners, churches, businesses, and municipalities to improve the quality of life in their communities, local water quality and, ultimately, the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
The awards also include projects that support communities seeking to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the planning, design, and implementation of ecosystem restoration efforts across the Chesapeake Bay watershed that align with NFWF’s and EPA conservation goals.
“The grants announced today represent the single largest annual investment in on-the-ground restoration projects in the more than 20-year history of NFWF’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF.
“These grants demonstrate the power of and the conservation impact of supporting local communities in implementing conservation projects that support broader restoration goals for the Chesapeake Bay while at the same time addressing critical local priorities for environmental improvements,” he continued.
Examples of this year’s grant recipients include:
- Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley ($1,000,000) will accelerate the installation and maintenance of riparian and upland best management practices to improve water quality in Shenandoah Valley of Virginia through the renewed efforts of Smith Creek Watershed Partnership.
- City of Annapolis ($500,000) will install a living shoreline to improve water quality, habitat, and resilience in Hawkins Cove and improve public access for the surrounding community, engage 300 community members in project planning, design, and implementation.
- City of Corning ($75,000) will complete a stormwater and green infrastructure plan for Denison Park, the most visited and largest park in City of Corning, New York, located adjacent to the Chemung River.
- Delaware Wild Lands ($178,000) will restore coastal plain upland forest and native meadow habitat in the Great Cypress Swamp in Sussex County, Delaware’s largest freshwater wetland and contiguous block of forestland.
- Watershed Alliance of York ($1,000,000) will bring together private and public partners to accelerate implementation, maintenance, and financial incentives of tree planting efforts in York County, Pennsylvania.
- West Virginia National Guard, Inc. ($499,000) will improve transport of poultry litter from West Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay watershed to enhance abandoned mine reclamation efforts across the state, supporting mine reclamation efforts on 180 acres for the Patriot Apple Project benefitting ex-coal miners and veterans in the region.
Since 2006, the INSR Program has provided more than $123 million to 219 projects that have reduced 22 million pounds of nitrogen, 4 million pounds of phosphorus, and 480,000 tons of sediment across the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The SWG Program has provided more than $109 million to 496 projects that have permanently protected 169,000 acres under conservation easement, restored more than 1,550 miles of riparian habitat and 14,000 acres of wetlands, and engage more than 125,000 watershed residents in volunteer conservation and restoration efforts.
The grants include NFWF’s Small Watershed Grants and Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction programs, and with a boost in federal infrastructure funding, the annual grant slate is the largest ever awarded by NFWF for Chesapeake restoration.
Photo (by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program) shows Jake Reilly of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.