Financial Assistance Available for Local Governments that Develop Action-Oriented Strategies to Protect and Restore Watersheds
ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Watershed Services Unit announced today that financial assistance is available for local governments who develop action-oriented strategies to protect and restore watersheds.
The deadline for local governments to submit proposals is June 18, 2004. Awards will be made in September.
All municipal and county governments are eligible to apply for the package of technical and financial assistance designed to develop action-oriented strategies to protect and restore watersheds. A total of five awards will be distributed.
While development and implementation decisions of the Watershed Restoration Action Strategy (WRAS) are left to the local jurisdictions, DNR provides substantial technical assistance including: $40,000 in grant funds; coordinator assistance; a detailed report describing the watershed; a stream corridor walk, assessing up to 100 miles of stream segments that identifies trouble spots; and a survey that provides information on a stream’s habitat and water quality conditions.
The effort between state and local government culminates in a comprehensive watershed management plan that contains prioritized goals outlining the protection, conservation and restoration of water quality and natural habitats such as streams, riparian forest buffers, wetlands, and other natural conditions.
In 2000 as part of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, Maryland and the other Bay states agreed to address 2/3 of all watersheds with comprehensive water and habitat management plans. Through the DNR and local government WRAS partnerships, 20 watershed plans have been completed or are underway. Each WRAS takes two years to develop. DNR expects to complete plans for 50 watersheds by 2010. In addition to the state’s partnership program, local jurisdictions are successfully tackling watershed plans on their own, further helping to meet the goal established by the Bay Program. The Bay Agreement also establishes goals for sound land use, stewardship, and community engagement.
While the WRAS is a voluntary exercise, it can assist local governments in meeting some regulatory water quality requirements. It can also help local governments develop site-specific plans targeting nutrient pollution reductions. “This is particularly timely since the Tributary Strategies, a program that quantifies nutrient pollution loads and sets reduction goals, has just released their findings,” said the WRAS program director, Danielle Lucid. “The WRAS is one tool that local governments can use to meet the goals of the Tributary Strategies and protect and restore upland water quality, habitat, and the bay.”
The WRAS RFP can be found on the web site at http://dnr.Maryland.gov/watersheds/wras. Additional information is available from Danielle Lucid at 410-260-8726 or email@example.com.
Posted May 28, 2004