Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund Criteria
Through land protection projects supported by the Fund, OSI seeks to raise the visibility of watershed conservation issues in the Delaware River Basin and attract additional funding for priority acquisitions. OSI further supports efforts that promote and pilot innovative conservation financing tools and that test and advance emerging watershed protection practices.
Capital Grants are awarded for projects that:
- Are in watersheds that have the ability to produce high-quality ground and/or surface water;
- Contribute to water quality through protection of streams, headwaters and other important recharge areas; and
- Protect sites that are vulnerable to erosion and ground water pollution.
To receive funding, capital projects must meet all of the Fund’s eligibility criteria. (Please note that capital grants focus primarily on forested landscapes).
In 2015, OSI created a pilot program for funding permanent protection of riparian buffers on active farms, in cooperation with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This pilot has been completed, but there may be additional funding rounds. For more information contact Bill Rawlyk, below.
Capital grants may be used to acquire permanent conservation easements and fee interest in land. Grants may also be applied to cover transaction costs, including cost of appraisals, surveys, title, environmental assessments and non-staff legal expenses, with the latter not to exceed 2% of the parcel’s Fair Market Value. Grant funds may not be used for endowments, stewardship costs, staff time, fundraising, or other non-capital project expenses.
Catalyst Grants ranging from $10,000 to $35,000 are awarded to nonprofit conservation and education organizations for work with state, county, or municipal governments to integrate water resource protection into conservation and open space planning. Although public agencies are not eligible to apply, OSI encourages proposals that include partnerships with public sector entities. Projects may have broader purposes, but OSI funds should be used only for the part of the project related to permanent water resource protection. For a recent example, see the case study on the Land Conservancy of New Jersey’s work on the Sussex County Open Space Plan.
The Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund supports capital projects to permanently protect lands that conserve water quality and quantity. OSI makes grants and loans to qualified land conservation organizations.
The Fund provides Catalyst Grants to nonprofit organizations for conservation and open space planning that furthers water protection by state, county and municipal governments, as well as Science Grants to translate hydro-logical concepts and develop data that identify critical water resources for land protection.
In 2015, OSI created a pilot program for funding permanent protection of riparian buffers on active farms, in cooperation with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This pilot has been completed, but there may be additional funding rounds. Read about OSI's work to protect a riparian buffer on Harris Farm in NJ.
Based on an analysis showing places where land protection or restoration could deliver significant returns, the Initiative targets eight watershed clusters (see map) that ultimately feed into the Delaware River. OSI’s awards capital grants for land protection in five of those clusters: Pocono and Kittatinny; Upper Lehigh; Schuylkill Highlands; Kirkwood-Cohansey; and New Jersey Highlands. Only projects in the focus areas established for these watershed clusters are eligible to apply for capital funding. Catalyst grant projects can take place in any part of the Delaware River Basin.
OSI makes grants and loans to qualified land conservation organizations through a competitive process with the assistance of an advisory board of experts from the region with knowledge of hydrology, land protection, planning, natural resources, and philanthropy.
OSI staff and advisors review and make recommendations on all grant applications.
Although there is no minimum or maximum grant size, capital awards are typically between $75,000 and $450,000 and catalyst grants range from $10,000 to $30,000.
Through the next grant round, OSI will award the remaining $1.89 million in capital land protection grants. It is anticipated that, overall, a minimum of $500,000 will be awarded to qualified projects in each cluster with the remaining funds to be granted to conservation transactions of the greatest need and opportunity across the target watershed clusters.
Standards for Conservation Easements and Land Stewardship
To ensure permanent protection of the land’s natural resource values and maintain or enhance water quality, capital projects must meet the Fund’s conservation easement and land stewardship standards and guidelines.
OSI staff will review conservation easement and/or management plan language prior to distribution of grant funds.
For this Fund, OSI gives strong preference to capital projects with a 3:1 or greater financial match. Donations, grants and, in some cases, land can serve as match. Prior to grant distribution, grantees must provide a detailed accounting of all matching sources. See full details on match requirements.