Funding will be used to protect and sustain watersheds; secure safe drinking water
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) are providing $156,000 to the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast to Protect and Sustain Healthy Watersheds the Myakka Island Conservation Corridor in Florida. The foundation is one of nine projects that for the first time are receiving $1.4 million in grants to improve land management of hundreds of thousands of acres of watersheds in seven states.
“The Healthy Watershed Consortium Grant Program is a unique public-private partnership that brings together businesses, local governments, universities, and not-for-profit organizations to work collaboratively on watershed protection—which is key to long-lasting environmental protection,” said Joel Beauvais, deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “Today’s grants will protect waterways from pollution while maintaining healthy habitats and ensuring clean and safe drinking water that will safeguard local economies that depend on watersheds.”
“These grants will accelerate protection and improved management of watersheds across the United States,” said Carlton Owen, the Endowment’s President and CEO.
Grants were awarded to organizations in California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia to provide short-term funding to leverage larger financing for targeted watershed protection; to provide funds that help build the capacity of local organizations for sustainable, long-term watershed protection; or to support new techniques or approaches that advance the state of practice for watershed protection and that can be replicated across the country.
EPA launched the Healthy Watershed Consortium Grant Program in 2015 to accelerate and expand the protection of healthy, freshwater ecosystems and their watersheds. EPA co-funds the program with the Endowment, which manages the partnership.
The nine funded grants are:
Healthy Watersheds California--$225,000 to Pacific Forest Trust to develop the policies, technical assessments, and financing instruments needed to leverage private and public capital for restoration and conservation of an estimated 7 million acres of watersheds which serve California’s primary reservoirs.
Protecting Forests to Protect Watersheds, California--$200,000 to The Trust for Public Land and the Save the Redwoods League. These organizations are working collaboratively to seek California Clean Water State Revolving Fund loans for large-scale protection of forested watersheds.
Protecting Blue Creek & the Klamath River for Salmon, Wildlife and People, California--$100,000 to Western Rivers Conservancy to implement long-term watershed protection plans, sell carbon offsets, and create new jobs in rural northern California. Partners, including the Yurok Tribe, will protect 47,000 acres within four watersheds in northern California's temperate rainforest.
Colorado Conservation Exchange: Accelerating Investment in Watershed Health--$150,000 to accelerate investment in watershed health to reduce wildfire threats in the Big Thompson and Cache La Poudre watersheds and beyond through a Watershed Investment Fund linking investors with land stewards.
Myakka Island Conservation Corridor, Florida--$156,000 to Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast to conserve more than 10,000 acres over the next six years within the Myakka River watershed, in rapidly-growing Sarasota and Manatee Counties. These properties will link and buffer already protected lands and help keep waterways drinkable, fishable and swimmable.
Permanently Protecting the Largest Rivers in Eastern Maine--$150,000 to Downeast Salmon Federation, which has a goal to conserve 80 percent of the habitat corridors along the remaining three unprotected rivers in Washington County, Maine, by 2025. Funds will support a full-time director for three years at the Federation’s Downeast Rivers Land Trust.
Framework for Acquiring and Sustainably Managing Agricultural Land, Oregon--$200,000 to Freshwater Trust to build a replicable framework to acquire and sustainably manage agricultural land in the John Day Basin, Oregon. The model will address the increasing conversion of farmland nationally. As farmers retire over the next 20 years, nearly half of all U.S. farmland—400 million acres—will change hands. Sustainable management of these farmlands will enhance watershed protection.
Accelerating Watershed Protection in the Central Puget Sound Region, Washington--$200,000 to Puget Sound Regional Council, a metropolitan planning organization that includes 86 jurisdictions. Their project will develop a regional open space plan focused on protecting high priority, threatened ecosystems; prepare a watershed protection report that informs the upcoming update of the Region’s growth plan, VISION 2040, to integrate growth management with ecosystem protection; and promote use of a new online ecosystem service valuation tool for regional watershed benefits, decision making, and local actions.
Healing Waters Regional Landscape Initiative Cacapon River Watershed, West Virginia--$100,000 to Cacapon and Lost Rivers Land Trust to develop the Healing Waters Regional Landscape Initiative, build capacity for large-scale protection efforts throughout the watershed, and create a strategic local and regional collaboration model.