West Virginia to benefit from over $3.4 million in watershed restoration grants

ANNAPOLIS, MD — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program are pleased to announce over $3.4 million in grant awards to support water quality improvement efforts in West Virginia. This grant will leverage over $3.2 million in matching contributions to generate a total conservation impact of over $6.6 million.

This grant was awarded through the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant (INSR) program, a key funding mechanism of the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program designed to support on-the-ground nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment reduction activities across the Bay watershed. The INSR program is administered by NFWF, in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Program and EPA, 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.

“With 2024 marking 25 years of partnership between NFWF and the EPA in advancing efforts to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay watershed, we’re thrilled to celebrate this programmatic milestone with a record annual investment of $25 million in voluntary and community-based projects across the Bay watershed,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF.

The two grant awards in West Virginia include:

• Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay ($2,000,000): This project will increase adoption of riparian buffers and agricultural best management practices on private lands through the use of tailored incentive programs and flexible funding to advance farm-scale conservation systems. This will result in 240 acres of riparian forest buffers restored.

• Trout Unlimited ($1,411,700): This funding will promote stream and riparian best management practices, as well as broader farm-scale conservation systems through improved outreach and technical assistance, new riparian buffers, and new maintenance programs to help ensure the longevity of the conservation impact. The project will restore nine miles of riparian habitat and reduce annual sediment pollution by nearly one million pounds.

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.

“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.”

In addition, NFWF and EPA have further prioritized investments that accelerate the 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 Chesapeake Bay Program (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.

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

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