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National Estuary Program (NEP)

National Estuary Program Coastal Watersheds Request for Applications (RFA)


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting applications from eligible applicants for the National Estuary Program (NEP) Coastal Watersheds Grant to support projects that address urgent and challenging issues that threaten the ecological and economic well-being of coastal and estuarine areas. EPA seeks applicants to address the priorities established by Congress that include, but are not limited to:

  1. loss of key habitats resulting in significant impacts on fisheries and water quality such as seagrass, mangroves, tidal and freshwater wetlands, forested wetlands, kelp beds, shellfish beds, and coral reefs;
  2. recurring harmful algae blooms;
  3. unusual or unexplained marine mammal mortalities;
  4. proliferation or invasion of species that limit recreational uses, threaten wastewater systems, or cause other ecosystem damage;
  5. flooding and coastal erosion that may be related to sea level rise, changing precipitation, or salt marsh, seagrass, or wetland degradation or loss;
  6. impacts of nutrients and warmer water temperatures on aquatic life and coastal ecosystems, including low dissolved oxygen conditions in estuarine waters; and
  7. contaminants of emerging concern found in coastal and estuarine waters such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and microplastics.

Specifically, EPA is soliciting applications from eligible applicants to administer a national competitive subaward grant under one assistance agreement to be awarded under this announcement. The competitive subaward process proposed by the applicant must be on a national scale and recipients must address urgent and challenging environmental issues that threaten the ecological and economic well-being of coastal and estuarine areas.

Applications should reflect the applicant’s familiarity with the NEP and the key role of EPA approved NEP Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plans (CCMPs) in addressing the relevant environmental issues. Applicants must have the ability to work nationally within the defined geographic areas and be capable of undertaking activities that advance the NEP Coastal Watershed priorities. The competitive subaward process described in the application should also demonstrate how it will support coastal and estuary protection and restoration subaward projects located completely within the geographic areas as defined by the EPA in this RFA.

The geographic areas are HUC 12s from the Watershed Boundary Dataset that are within or intersect NEP study areas, and drain to the coast or estuarine systems. Subaward projects must occur completely within the boundary of these identified geographic areas in order to be eligible to be considered for subaward funding.

Eligible applicants under this announcement include state, interstate, tribal, inter-tribal consortia and regional water pollution control agencies and entities, state coastal zone management agencies, and other public or nonprofit private agencies, institutions, and organizations. Non-profit private universities and colleges and non-profit institutions of higher education are considered non-profit organizations and are eligible under this announcement.

Non-profit organizations described in section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply under this announcement.

The total federal amount of funding expected to be available under this announcement is approximately $4 million ($1,000,000 for the years one through four) depending on Agency funding levels, the quality of applications received, and other applicable considerations. It is anticipated that one cooperative agreement will be incrementally funded under this announcement with a six-year project period. Subawards awarded under the cooperative agreement are anticipated to have project periods ranging from one to two years. EPA requires the applicant to provide a minimum 25% match of the total Federal request.