Buoyed by the success of this year’s Small Watershed Grants Program, an effort is being made to continue the program next year and perhaps double the amount of money available.

“It has worked so well that we think we will be able to get another round of funding for it,” said Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-MD, who initiated the program.

This year, the Bay Program awarded $650,000 to 37 organizations and local governments for a variety of restoration projects. An aide to Sarbanes said twice as much money is being sought in next year’s budget.

The program was designed to deliver funds directly to watershed-based citizen organizations and local governments for environmental restoration and protection projects. The program awarded grants ranging from $500 to $40,000.

“It has worked far better than any of us envisioned,” Sarbanes said. “It’s a way of encouraging these nongovernmental organizations to participate, and you get tremendous volunteer contributions out of this.”

Recipients were chosen from more than 160 applicants. Grants are administered by the Alliance for Chesapeake Bay and the Center for the Chesapeake Communities. Members of the review panel, which was assembled by the Alliance, had expertise in grant-making, community capacity building and the technical issues involved.

Grant recipients this year include:

Virginia: Elizabeth River Project; Richmond Recreation and Parks Foundation; Shenandoah Valley Pure Water 2000 Forum; Lord Fairfax Planning District Commission; James River Association; Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology; Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers Association; CM Crockett Park; Richmond County Board of Supervisors; Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment.

Maryland: Town of North East; Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage; Gunpowder Valley Conservancy; Severn River Land Trust; Calvert County Department of Planning and Zoning; City of Bowie; Fallston High School Environmental Club; Anacostia Watershed Society; The Nature Conservancy; Mid Shore Regional Recycling Program; Town of Federalsburg; City of Annapolis; Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks; Bel Air High School; Calvert Soil Conservation District; Eyes of Paint Branch.

Pennsylvania: Bradford County Conservation District; Countryside Conservancy; York Township; Headwaters Charitable Trust; Brandywine Conservancy; Bellvue Park Association; Juniata County Conservation District; Lititz Run Watershed Alliance; Central Pennsylvania Conservancy; Lancaster County Conservation District; Tyrone.

For a summary of the funded projects or information about the program next year, call the Alliance at: 410-377-6270.