Top 3 Funding Sources for Watersheds & Wetlands Restoration

With the Trump administration’s rollback of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) as it applies to the Clean Water Act, wetland and waterway restoration assistance is a priority in many communities. Three grants are opening early in 2019.


There are several federally-funded grant opportunities available to help sustain and increase the vitality of local water sources and tackle wetlands restoration. Apply early in 2019.

1. Five Star and Urban Water Restoration Grant Program

A grant offered through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and National Wildlife Council (NWC), in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the USDA Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), as well as FedEx, Southern Company, Shell Oil Company and BNSF Railway, could provide future stability to wetlands and watersheds and improve water quality.

The program will provide $1.7 million in grants nationwide to local partnerships focusing on programs that emphasize wetland and waterway restoration and sustainability.

Grant proposals should emphasize at least one aspect from five different priority areas:

On-the-Ground Restoration

  • Address species and habitats affected by watershed and wetland quality
  • Address stressors through restoration techniques
  • Collect and analyze waterway samples
  • Develop and implement trash and litter prevention programs
  • Develop open spaces and protect community tree canopy

Environmental Outreach, Education and Training

  • Encourage the public in hands-on, outdoor conservation experiences
  • Encourage restoration of public spaces, such as schools, parks and birding trails
  • Establish or advance a water quality monitoring programming
  • Improve understanding of trash impact on local waterways

Community Partnerships

  • Engage community partnerships to achieve ecological and specific educational outcomes
  • Demonstrate how the project will advance local watershed conservation

Measurable Results


Applications are due by Jan. 31.

Register online at NFWF. Fill out an application by clicking, “Apply for funding.”

2. Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Grants

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) Restoration Center is offering grants of up to $3 million to fund activities that “return degraded or altered marine, estuarine, coastal and freshwater, migratory fish habitats to functioning conditions, and techniques that return NOAA trust species to their historic habitats.”

Matching funds are not required to receive a grant, but are encouraged.

Pre-proposals are due by Jan. 14.

Apply online at

3. Great Lakes Habitat Restoration Regional Partnership Grants

As part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, NOAA’s 2019 Great Lakes grant program is offering grants up to $5 million for projects to “restore coastal habitats … and sustain healthy populations of native fish species in eight U.S. Great Lake States: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.”

Past winners include a nearly $5 million grant to the Friends of the Detroit River for the Belle Isle’s Lake Okonoka Habitat Restoration project, which ultimately nearly 300 acres of habitat.

The initiative will give priority to applications that meet one of the following criteria:

  • Restore degraded Great Lakes coastal habitat, including the recovery and sustainability of native riverine and lacustrine species in the Great Lakes
  • Contribute to GLRI measure of progress
  • Target important geographic areas and resources for restoration work that will create functional habitats
  • Work with NOAA to select and conduct technically and scientifically sound restoration projects within and/or outside of AOCs
  • Manage funds, provide accountability and implement restoration projects

Applications are due Feb. 4.

Apply online at

Visit EPA’s website to track additional wetland and waterway restoration funding opportunities.