Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants totaling $2.7 million were awarded to 75 community groups and local governments in the Bay watershed to help restore the Chesapeake Bay, federal officials said.

The groups in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York will get an additional $9 million in matching money from nonprofit groups, as well as state and local governments, officials said.

“These small grants make a tremendous difference in promoting citizen-based stewardship and helping to repair the degraded watershed of the Chesapeake Bay,” said Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-MD.

Projects include planting “rain gardens” to reduce pollution in runoff and planting forest buffers beside streams to stop erosion and restore underwater grass. Grant money also will go toward restoring almost 2,000 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat, including wetlands, oyster reefs and underwater grasses. The projects also include efforts to plant 25 miles of forest buffers along rivers and streams that drain into the Bay, the nation’s largest estuary.

Most of the grants were modest, federal officials said, between $2,000 and $50,000. The EPA is providing most of the federal support for the projects. Since 1998, the Small Watershed Grants program has awarded 292 grants totaling about $9 million to communities throughout the Bay’s 64,000-square-mile watershed. To learn more about the grants, visit www.chesapeakebay.net