Dams will be moved, farmers will get incentives to use less fertilizer and keep livestock out of streams, while polluted runoff from some abandoned mines will be controlled under the most recent Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants announced in August.
Some of the 88 grants, totaling more than $3.06 million, will engage students in creating schoolyard habitats, while others will promote the creation of runoff- absorbing rain gardens and green roofs.
In some tidal areas, “living shorelines” will be created using natural vegetation to stem coastal erosion, while farther up in the watershed, streambanks will be stabilized and planted with trees.
The goal of the 6-year-old program is to support communities and organizations so they can take local actions that promote citizen stewardship and improve water and habitat quality while helping to meet Bay cleanup goals.
“The Small Watershed Grants Program fosters the type of partnerships and collaboration necessary in improving the Chesapeake Bay,” said Donald Welsh, the EPA’s mid-Atlantic regional administrator. “By linking the resources of the federal government and the dedication and knowledge of local organizations, we can work together to help speed the restoration of this national treasure.”
The program is administered by the nonprofit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in partnership with the Bay Program. Projects are reviewed by the foundation and selected based on their ability to meet commitments in the Bay Program’s Chesapeake 2000 agreement aimed at restoring water quality and living resources in the Bay and throughout its watershed.
The grants support activities throughout the entire 64,000-square-mile Bay watershed, from streamside buffer conservation in Delaware, to the implementation of watershed restoration plans in New York’s Schuyler and Steuben counties, to the control of purple loosestrife in the wetlands of West Virginia’s Morgan County,
In all, grant recipients will plant more than 209 miles of forest buffers and improve an additional 32 miles of streams that drain into the Bay. More than 10,000 community volunteers will actively participate in the projects, while about 24,000 citizens will be educated through the dissemination of outreach materials.
About $2 million of the grant funds come from the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office, with the rest coming from the U.S. Forest Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment.
Most of the grants are modest, with a maximum level of support of $50,000, but they have proven effective at leveraging support from others for projects. Since Congress created the Small Watershed Grants Program six years ago, the $14.3 million it has provided to support 439 projects have helped leverage an additional $43 million from other funding sources.
In addition to the regular small watershed grants, five Community Legacy Grants, which can be as much as $100,000, were announced for innovative projects that could serve as models for others. The legacy grants projects include:
- Lower Susquehanna Watershed Partnership: The Chesapeake Bay Foundation will promote riparian forest buffer restoration in southcentral Pennsylvania in concert with a broad spectrum of partners. The project will help to restore 71 miles of riparian forest buffers in the region, and support a series of forums and policy discussions to ensure the exchange of technical information among resource professionals working to restore these buffers. The $100,000 legacy grant will leverage an additional $664,447 from partners.
- Cypress Branch Atlantic White Cedar Bog Restoration: The Severn River Association will restore a 12-acre Atlantic white cedar wetland ecosystem by removing 1,000 cubic yards of sediment fill, eradicating invasive species and replanting the site with 10,000 stems of Atlantic white cedar. The project, which will include help from 500 students from six area schools, will create habitat for yellow perch and other wetland-dependent species. The $100,000 legacy grant will be leverage an additional $1.4 million from a coalition of partners.
- McCoy-Linn Dam Removal: The Clearwater Conservancy of Central Pennsylvania will remove the dam on Spring Creek in Centre County, stabilizing 4,000 linear feet of streambank, restoring 4,000 linear feet of forested riparian buffer, 4,000 feet of free-flowing stream habitat, and 1.5 acres of wetlands. It will also open two miles of upstream habitat to fish. The $100,000 legacy grant will leverage an additional $223,600 from project partners.
- Using Conservation Incentives to Help Farmers Reduce Nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: The American Farmland Trust will enroll farmers in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster and Blair counties in pilot programs to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus use. The program calls for enrolling at least 250 acres this year and 1,000 acres next year in a program in which farmers will reduce nutrient applications to levels in the Enhanced Nutrient Management Plan or less. If a farmers’ yield drops as a result of nutrient management practices, the loss will be covered by a guarantee. The $85,000 legacy grant will be matched with $85,300 from other partners.
- Lake Monticello Stream Restoration Demonstration Project: The Lake Monticello Owners’ Association in Fluvanna County, VA, will restore the banks of several small streams that feed into the lake’s Jackson Cove. At least 1,000 feet of streams will be restored using bioengineering techniques such as toe protection, grade controls, bank shaping, joint plantings, and buffer enhancement. Restoration will result in reduced sediment export, stable banks and improved stream habitat. Articles and television spots will increase public awareness about the project. The legacy grant of $63,000 will leverage $53,600 from partners.
For a complete list of the 2005 Small Watershed Grants recipients, visit the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation home page at www.nfwf.org, or the Bay Program, at http://www.chesapeakebaynet/smallwatergrants.htm The sites will also provide notices of future grant opportunities when that information becomes available.