Bay Journal

Grant programs award $9.2 million to reduce pollution, improve habitats in watershed

  • By Karl Blankenship on October 01, 2012

Farmers in the Potomac headwaters will get help restoring stream buffers that improve coldwater fish habitat. Landowners in Pennsylvania's Franklin County will be encouraged to convert turf to forest. And on Maryland's Eastern Shore, workers will remove a dam and restore floodplains to open 13 miles of high-quality habitat for imperiled river herring and American eel populations.

Those were among $9.2 million in restoration and outreach grants recently announced by the Bay Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The grants, made under the Small Watershed Grants Program and the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program, are designed to reduce pollution and improve habitats throughout the watershed's six states and the District of Columbia.

Altogether, the 41 projects funded are expected to engage 9,000 volunteers, restore 176 miles of streamside forests and 158 acres of wetlands, and establish 170,000 square feet of green roofs.

Some projects go beyond restoration and seek ways to accelerate the implementation of runoff controls. For instance, a $324,000 project by the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, will install pervious pavement at the Maryland Science Center as a demonstration project as well as explore institutional barriers to such innovative stormwater practices and how they can be overcome.

Likewise, the Potomac Conservancy will use a $200,000 grant to test a model program to engage absentee landowners in Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley in adopting conservation practices. The project seeks to increase outreach to those landowners who often lease their land for farming and have lower participation rates in conservation programs.

The Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program, which is funded by the EPA, awarded $6.8 million to 21 projects throughout the watershed with recipients providing $10.1 million in matching funds. The program provides grants to explore innovative and cost-effective projects that dramatically reduce or eliminate the flow of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution into local waterways and the Bay.

The Small Watershed Grants Program, which is funded by a combination of public agencies and private support, awarded $2.4 million to 20 projects in the watershed with recipients providing $3.4 million in matching funds. Those grants go to organizations and municipal governments working to improve the condition of their local watershed through on-the-ground restoration, habitat conservation and community engagement.

Since 2006, the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant Program has provided $33.6 million to 75 projects that reduce runoff in the watershed. Since 1999, the Small Watershed Grants Program has provided more than $31.4 million to support 683 projects in the region and has further leveraged close to $98.4 million in local matching funds, for a total conservation investment of more than $128.4 million.

For information about the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program and the Chesapeake Bay Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program, visit www.nfwf.org/chesapeake.

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About Karl Blankenship

Karl Blankenship is editor of the Bay Journal and Executive Director of Chesapeake Media Service. He has served as editor of the Bay Journal since its inception in 1991. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Read more articles by Karl Blankenship

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