Wisconsin Lakes

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WI Lakes

Surface Water Grant Deadline Swiftly Approaching

Applications for lake, river, and AIS grants due Dec 10

By WI Dept of Natural Resources Staff

MADISON, Wis. – Are you part of an organization interested in conservation work on Wisconsin lakes, rivers, or wetlands? Do you belong to a lake district, river management group, or lake association that is looking for funding project funding? The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides more than $6 million each year for projects that protect and restore surface waters. The deadline for planning projects is December 10th, and the deadline for management projects is February 1st, 2020, so there is still plenty of time to develop an application.

“The surface water grant program can help you carry out projects that make lakes, wetlands, and rivers healthier. From low-cost projects aimed at the DIY landowner to large-scale projects for shoreland restoration and aquatic invasive species control, there is likely a grant program out there that fits your needs”, said Alison Mikulyuk, DNR’s Lakes and Rivers Team Leader, who coordinates the grant effort. “The first step is to determine your eligibility and goals. Your local lakes, rivers, or AIS coordinator can help you take those important first steps.”

Department funds may be granted to lake and river associations, units of local government, school districts, and qualified non-profits. If you are an individual, you should find a local organization willing to sponsor your project. After you establish your eligibility, the next step is to decide what grant program is right for you. Note that granted funds must be cost-shared, so local entities must contribute money or donate value to the project. The state typically covers 75% or 67% of project costs up to a maximum amount specified by subprogram.

Which grant program should you choose?

Best for first-time participants

If you or your organization has never participated received a grant before, Healthy Lakes is a great place to start. The program promotes five simple and inexpensive best practices, providing up to $1,000 per practice installed. Landowners can ask their lake association or county conservationist to sponsor an application. The more landowners you can recruit to participate with you, the healthier your lake will be.

Best for those who want a comprehensive plan for the future

If you need a strategic management plan to help guide your work, consider a lake management planning or river management planning grant. These funds can be used to develop or update a comprehensive management plan that will take a hard look at the waterbody to determine its condition and quality. Plans help to identify the cause of any problems and provide strategic direction to guide future management. The plan will also strive to understand the community and its goals, then it will suggest actions to accomplish them. Many consultants and planning commissions around the state offer planning services that may be paid for with grant dollars.

For those who already have a comprehensive plan

If you have a management plan already in place, then its time to put it into practice. This year we have a funding surplus for implementation projects on lakes and rivers—so competition is likely to be milder than usual. If you have a management plan sitting on the shelf, now is the time to implement it. Whether you are working a lake management project or river management project, implementation funding is available, up to $200,000 for projects that help lakes and $50,000 for rivers. Contact your local biologist right away.

Best for shoreline and wetland restoration

If you would like to take on a large shoreline or wetland restoration project, you may be eligible for a wetland or shoreland restoration grant. Up to $100,000 is available per project to restore shoreline habitat, or the hydrology and vegetation in a wetland. No management plan is necessary, but projects must be conducted according to National Resource Conservation Service standards.

Best for lake and river protection

The lakes, rivers and wetlands of Wisconsin are beloved by Wisconsinites and our visitors, and protection can help ensure they stay healthy for all to enjoy. The surface water grant program supports land acquisition and the placement of conservation easements for lakes and for rivers that will protect land in perpetuity. If you have a lake that isn’t developed, these programs can help set aside some of the shoreland to convey water quality benefits far into the future. If land acquisition isn’t a possibility, you might want to consider seeking support to develop a local ordinance.

Best for aquatic invasive species (AIS)

The department provides nearly $4 million per year to support work on AIS. AIS grant programs include the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program, prevention and control. Where you start depends on the AIS population, prevention needs, and the availability of public access. Your local AIS coordinator can help you plan a project.

Best for county governments

If you are a county government, why not start a lakes classification project?  These grants support the classification of lakes by physical characteristics, use and other factors, propose protection activities to carry out, and support the implementation of those activities. These grants are a foundation for large-scale planning and management that can help direct action far into the future.

How to get started

If you start soon, you can easily make the December or February deadline. Contact your local grants coordinator for help developing a competitive grant application. For more information on the Lakes and Rivers Grant program, contact information for local grants coordinators, and application materials, visit https://dnr.wi.gov/aid/surfacewater.html or google “Surface Water Grants.” Absolutely positive you want to dive right in? Our complete program guidance is available to download online.

Contacts: Alison Mikulyuk, DNR lakes and rivers team Leader, 608-264-8947, Alison.Mikulyuk@wisconsin.gov