Ministry of Natural Resources: acceptance of pre-applications for surface water subsidies 2023

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will award more than $6 million to local groups to protect and improve surface waters.

Lake groups, river groups, local governments, and non-profit organizations are encouraged to apply for a grant. Interested organizations should submit a pre-application by September 15 to ensure they are eligible to compete for a grant in November.

The DNR Surface Water Grant Program leverages money from the State Conservation Fund Water Resources Account to help local communities accelerate water conservation efforts in Wisconsin. Funding can be used to support a wide range of local projects that invest in watershed restoration and surface water protection.

Activities eligible for funding include:

  • Organizational capacity building
  • Surface Water Education Programs
  • Data collection and ecological assessments
  • Lake and river management planning
  • Improved water quality
  • Projects that restore habitat
  • Prevention and control of aquatic invasive species
  • Conservation easements and land acquisition

This year, MNR wishes to draw attention to the grant program’s ability to support the integrated management of aquatic plants. The ministry is currently proposing new rules that may require plans and monitoring to receive a permit for large aquatic plant control projects. The Surface Water Grants Program can provide financial support to help communities meet their aquatic plant management goals. Eligible organizations can apply for surface water planning grants of up to $10,000 per project to support plant monitoring and management plans.

Who is eligible to apply for a grant?

Eligible organizations include lake associations and districts, river management organizations, local government units, non-profit organizations, schools and others. Individuals are not eligible for grants (with some exceptions), but can partner with an organization that wishes to sponsor a project. Contact your local environmental grants specialist now to confirm your eligibility.

What funding is available?

The amount of funding available varies by project. For example, education projects are eligible for up to $5,000 in state assistance. Comprehensive Planning Grants are available for $25,000 each, while larger Management Plan Implementation Grants can provide up to $200,000 per project. The grants operate on a reimbursement basis and require matching funds ranging from 25% to 33% of the total project cost.

How to register

Submit a pre-application before September 15. This will connect you to local support and ensure that you are eligible to submit a final application on November 15.

Pre-application forms can be found under the “application” tab on the MNR Surface Water Grants webpage. Right-click the link to the Surface Water Grant Application Form 8700-284 and download or “save as” to create a copy of the form on your computer. Open the form from your local drive and complete the sections labeled “pre-application”.

Send the form by e-mail before September 15 to [email protected] The department will contact you with more information following your submission.

For more information

Visit the Surface Water Grants Program webpage for more information on applying and managing a grant project.

The MNR Surface Water Grant Applicant’s Guide is a comprehensive user manual for the program. This document has been updated for the 2022-2023 grant cycle. It is organized chronologically to explain how to navigate the grant program, from application to closure. Start by reading Section 1, which contains enough high-level introductory information to get you started.

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