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Healthy Watersheds Protection

Frequently Asked Questions about the HWCG

1. What is a healthy watershed?

For the purposes of this grant program, a Healthy Watershed is one in which natural land cover supports dynamic hydrologic and geomorphic processes within their natural range of variation (i.e., sediment storage and deposition); habitat of sufficient size and connectivity to support native aquatic and riparian species; and water quality that supports healthy biological communities. (US EPA, 2012. Identifying and Protecting Healthy Watersheds: Concepts, Assessments, and Management Approaches. U.S. EPA, EPA-841-B-11-002).

2. What does EPA mean by “consortium”?

For the purposes of this program, a consortium is one entity who is linked with or in a collaborative partnership with other groups or organizations having similar healthy watersheds protection goals.

3. What projects can be funded under the subawards?

It is anticipated that the subaward projects will be either healthy watershed program development projects or local demonstration/training projects. For healthy watershed program development projects, the subaward funds should be provided for projects that develop and/or support state, interstate, and tribal healthy watersheds programs. Examples of projects include development of state, interstate, or tribal healthy watersheds strategies or plans that employ a systems-based, integrated approach to protection; environmental flows assessments; and public outreach and education on the importance of protecting healthy watersheds. For local demonstration/training projects, examples include protection of forested drinking water sources in headwaters, restoration of hydrologic connectivity, development of local conservation zoning and easement program plans.

4. Can conservation easements be funded through the subaward grants?

Funds received through this competition cannot be used for the purchase of land or conservation easements. However, partner funding that is independent of this federal funding and not part of the cost share / match (required and voluntary cost share / match) may be used for implementation projects, such as for example, the purchase of land or conservation easements.

5. Our university would like to participate as a subawardee for consortium grants because of our expertise on watershed related effects on stream ecosystem health. How can we find additional information on the subaward processs?

It will take the grantee some time to set up the sub-grant program. We estimate that this will be sometime in the late 2015 timeframe. The grantee will establish a process for the sub-grants that will be included on a web site with sub-grant application instructions. EPA will have a link to this sub-grant website on our Healthy Watersheds Program website.

6. How many subawards does EPA anticipate being made under this grant? Is there a minimum or maximum number required? Anticipated federal funding for this award is approximately $3.75 million. Does this amount include funding that the grantee will issue as subawards?

There is no minimum or maximum number of sub-awards under this grant. The total funding of the grant with the required match is $5 million ($3.75M of federal funding, plus 25% match). The number of subawards under this grant depends upon any additional leveraged funds, increasing the total funding beyond $5 million, and the range of funding in proposed subawards. Funding for each sub-award may range from $50,000 to $150,000 per project. It is anticipated that a portion of the federal funding will go towards the subawards.

7. Approximately how many subaward projects does EPA anticipate over the course of the grant period? Additionally, does EPA prefer that there be a high volume of small-scale short-term (1-2 year) subawards or a smaller volume of large-scale long-term (4-5 year) subawards?

EPA does not have a minimum or maximum number of subawards or the length of the individual subaward. Funding for each subaward is expected to be in the range of $50,000 to $150,000. The subawards funded under the cooperative agreement must be completed prior to the end of the cooperative agreement project period. The subawards need to be completed in sufficient time for the recipient to, for example, aggregate results and ensure that subawardees have been reimbursed for all incurred costs.

8. Please explain the types of healthy watersheds that subawardees may apply to work on. For example, quality of watershed, size, location etc.

Healthy watersheds protection is defined broadly as actions that preserve, enhance or improve aquatic ecosystems and supporting natural landscape and watershed processes such as hydrology in largely healthy watersheds. The grant is intended to support local protection and/or enhancement projects in healthy or primarily healthy watersheds that can be sustained into the future. A healthy watershed is one in which natural land cover supports dynamic hydrologic and geomorphic processes within their natural range of variation (i.e., sediment storage and deposition); habitat of sufficient size and connectivity to support native aquatic and riparian species; and water quality that supports healthy biological communities. Local projects must represent strategic priorities from an interstate, state, tribal, basin-scale, or regional-scale plan or strategy intended to protect healthy watersheds, or from some other prioritization scheme based on a healthy watersheds assessment.

To the extent a metropolitan river basin or watershed (e.g., Chesapeake Bay Watershed) has such a plan or strategy and is large enough to have healthy or primarily healthy watersheds that provide ecological infrastructure to support and sustain local protection and/or enhancement projects, then projects in healthy watersheds that are priorities for protection in the large basin or watershed would qualify for sub-grants.

For more information contact:
Peter Stangel, 404-915-2763; 
peter@usendowment.org

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities – U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Inc