Water Quality Improvement Efforts in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to Benefit from $22.4 Million in Watershed Restoration Grants

Washington, D.C., June 25, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $22.4 million in grant awards to support water quality improvement efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The 13 grants will leverage $35.3 million in matching contributions to generate a total conservation impact of $57.7 million.

The grants were awarded through the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant (INSR) program, a key funding mechanism of the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) partnership designed to support on-the-ground nutrient and sediment reduction activities across the Bay watershed. The INSR program is administered by NFWF, in partnership with CBP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under NFWF’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund (CBSF), an ongoing 25-year partnership between NFWF and other federal and private funders that provides grant funding, technical assistance, networking and information sharing programming in support of local, on-the-ground conservation and restoration efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers and streams. 

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“These awards through the 2024 INSR program will advance significant progress towards the goals and outcomes of both the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement and NFWF’s Chesapeake Bay Business Plan for water quality improvement, the health of local rivers and streams across the Bay watershed, and restoration of key habitats that provide ecological benefits far beyond nutrient and sediment reduction,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. 

“These grants reflect our continuing commitment to protect the Chesapeake Bay and preserve our nation’s environmental legacy for future generations,” said EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office Director Martha Shimkin. “It is inspiring to be working with so many awardees who have long been committed to preserving, protecting, and enhancing the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.”

Since 2018, the INSR program has emphasized robust and diversified partnerships and collaborative approaches as critical drivers of effective local and regional watershed restoration efforts and meaningful engagement of communities in the planning, design and implementation of those efforts. The funds will help partners engage farmers and agricultural producers, community-based organizations, homeowners, churches, businesses and municipalities to improve local water quality and the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

In addition, NFWF and EPA have further prioritized investments that accelerate implementation of natural and nature-based watershed restoration practices that provide long-term water quality improvement benefits, increase aquatic and terrestrial habitat for at-risk species, and enhance climate resilience for human and wildlife communities. Importantly, these awards will provide important contributions to collective goals and outcomes of the CBP (through the 2014 Watershed Agreement, and NFWF, through its Chesapeake Bay Business Plan), including restoring 170 miles of riparian forest buffer, implementing agricultural best management practices on 40,000 acres, and reducing annual nitrogen pollution by roughly half a million pounds. 

Examples of this year’s grant recipients include:

  • Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources ($2,000,000) will utilize novel contracting and procurement mechanisms in partnership with regional watershed forestry specialists and local partners to expand adoption of watershed forestry best management practices to restore 135 acres of riparian forest buffers, plant 50 acres of urban trees, and install 50 acres of conservation landscaping.
  • Chesapeake Conservancy ($1,633,500) will advance delisting of impaired local streams across central Pennsylvania by implementing approximately 30 full-farm restoration projects, including comprehensive nutrient management planning and restoration of 125 acres of riparian buffers.     
  • James River Association ($1,457,500) will build capacity through the Upper and Middle James River Riparian Consortium to combat remaining barriers to adoption of riparian forest buffer restoration practices and implement a framework for resilient funding to help restore 47 miles of riparian forest buffers in new regions and landscapes of the James River watershed.
  • Tioga County Soil and Water Conservation District ($1,972,000) will accelerate implementation of stream corridor projects and practices to diverse landowners across the upper Susquehanna River basin, reducing annual sediment pollution by nearly 200 tons through development and implementation of stream restoration plans, creation of accessible education opportunities for underserved landowners, and engaging 200 volunteers in conservation efforts to improve water quality and promote ecological and habitat benefits.
  • The Mid-Atlantic 4R Nutrient Stewardship Association ($1,366,000) will utilize trusted agricultural advisors and established partnerships to advance improved agricultural nutrient management in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Project will result in improved nutrient management on 20,000 acres of agricultural lands.

A complete list of the 2024 Chesapeake Bay Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction grants recipients is available here. 

Since 2006, the INSR Program has provided more than $200 million to more than 250 projects that have reduced 36 million pounds of nitrogen, 9 million pounds of phosphorus, and nearly 800,000 tons of sediment across the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  

For more information about the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund or to download the 2024 Chesapeake Bay Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction grant slate, visit www.nfwf.org/chesapeake.

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate, foundation and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 6,800 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of more than $10 billion. NFWF is an equal opportunity provider. Learn more at nfwf.org.

About the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Grants
Every year, EPA awards more than $4 billion in funding for grants and other assistance agreements. From small non-profit organizations to large state governments, EPA works to help many visionary organizations achieve their environmental goals. With countless success stories over the years, EPA grants remain a chief tool to protect human health and the environment.

About the Chesapeake Bay Program
The Chesapeake Bay Program is a regional partnership consisting of federal, state and local governments, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations. Primarily funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Chesapeake Bay Program has set the guidance and policy for restoring the Chesapeake Bay since 1983. Learn more at www.chesapeakebay.net.

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