Resident-led non-profits & small communities in Wisconsin win $6.5 million to restore surface water health and boost resilience

On February 17, 2023, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource (DNR)’s Surface Water Grant Program announced that it had awarded over $6.5 million in regenerative grant funding to nonprofit organizations, lake associations and municipalities throughout Wisconsin.

Funding will be used to restore the state’s surface water resources, and make them more resilient to the climate crisis.

This year, the program received 446 applications from eligible applicants requesting over $7.2 million.

The projects are extremely diverse, including work on outreach and education, management planning, habitat restoration, runoff and pollution reduction, and aquatic invasive species control.

The projects selected for awards leverage a substantial amount of local funding and promise to make an important contribution to our natural resource legacy.

Wisconsinites love their lakes and rivers, and our passionate, local stewards are uniquely equipped to lead efforts to protect and restore their local waterbodies with financial and technical support from the DNR,” says Laura MacFarland, DNR Surface Water Grant Program Manager.

I am inspired daily by their dedication and the good work they do,” she added.

Each year the program supports many local and regional partnerships working to improve water quality.

For example, Marathon County, in collaboration with the Big Eau Pleine Citizen Organization, the Eau Plaine Partnership for Integrated Conservation and others continue to restore water quality in Lake Wausau and the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir.

Funding from the Surface Water Grant will help them increase community engagement, promote and implement better land management practices on agricultural lands, and improve shoreland habitat.

Healthy Lakes and Rivers grants were awarded to 28 organizations to implement five simple and inexpensive practices that improve habitat and water quality.

These organizations engage private shoreline owners and assist them with the installation of fish sticks, native shoreline plantings, water runoff diversions, storm water infiltration systems and rain gardens.

Lastly, 163 groups will receive support to participate in the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program.

Local advocates will focus on education and outreach to empower watercraft users to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species between waterbodies.

This easy-to-understand grant is one of the most popular in the program.

These projects are just a few of the many receiving funding this year. While the grant projects from this year are just getting underway, next year’s grant cycle will soon start.

If you or a local group you work with could benefit from a surface water grant, reach out now to determine your eligibility and begin developing your ideas in advance of the September deadline.

Photo (courtesy Wisconsin DNR) shows Patrick Kilbey, Marquette County Conservationist, and Healthy Lakes & Rivers Landowner Participant, Karyn Niin Kitigade standing in front of Karyn’s native shoreland restoration planting.

Learn more about the Healthy Lakes and Rivers grants.

You must be logged in to post a comment