NFWF, EPA Announce $10 Million in Grants to Restore the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Grants awarded will support local, on-the-ground conservation efforts across the watershed

Blue heron, Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, Maryland

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 12, 2021) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program partnership today announced more than $10 million in grants for projects that will protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding watershed. The 49 grants announced today will generate $12 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of more than $22 million.

“EPA is pleased to support projects that improve the quality of local waters and habitat and help restore the Chesapeake Bay,” said Diana Esher, EPA Mid-Atlantic acting regional administrator. “It is a priority for EPA to support local actions that move us closer to our restoration goals. We applaud the grantees for their commitment to cleaner water and healthier watersheds.” 

These grants will support on-the-ground projects to improve waterways, restore habitat and strengthen iconic wildlife species. Collectively, the grants will implement water quality improvement practices on more than 45,000 acres, restore more than 45 miles of streamside forest habitat and prevent more than 6,300 tons of pollutants annually from entering the rivers and streams that feed the Chesapeake Bay.  

“By focusing our resources on projects that provide multiple benefits, NFWF and its partners are demonstrating how watershed restoration projects strengthen the resilience of both communities and wildlife habitats, and how targeted investments can achieve multiple conservation goals,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF.

Examples of this year’s grant recipients include:

  • American Forests ($49,900) will work with partners to improve tree canopy by building a tree equity tool for use across the greater Washington metropolitan region, which will focus urban forestry projects and resources on communities of highest need.
  • Piedmont Environmental Council ($263,800) will pair riparian buffer restoration, livestock exclusion, and implementation of agricultural best management practices with land conservation measures to restore and sustain long-term water quality benefits. 
  • University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center ($50,000) will work with local governments in West Virginia to expand their capacity to address water quality improvements and mitigate hazards in a coordinated way that creates efficiencies and reduces implementation costs.
  • Defensores de la Cuenca ($167,800) will pair workshops with hands-on experiences to train primarily Spanish-speaking participants in the Anacostia River watershed on watershed issues, culminating in the completion of locally led watershed restoration projects by program participants.

The grants were awarded through the Small Watershed Grants (SWG) program, a core program under NFWF’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund (CBSF). CBSF is a partnership between NFWF and the EPA to provide grant funding, technical assistance and networking and information sharing in support of local, on-the-ground conservation efforts to restore the bay and its tributary rivers and streams. 

Additional support for the program comes from the Altria Group, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  

Since 1999, the SWG program has provided more than $83 million to 985 projects to promote on-the-ground community-based efforts, which result in measurable improvements to local stream health and habitat, and the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. The SWG program includes two distinct funding opportunities: SWG Implementation (SWG-I) grants of $50,000-$500,000 awarded for projects that result in direct, on-the-ground actions to protect and restore water quality, species, and habitats in the Bay watershed; SWG Planning and Technical Assistance (SWG-PTA) grants up to $50,000 awarded for projects that enhance local capacity to more efficiently and effectively implement future on-the-ground actions through assessment, planning, design and other technical assistance-oriented activities.

A complete list of the 2021 Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grant recipients is available here. For more information about the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, visit

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About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
NFWF works with the public and private sectors to sustain, restore and enhance the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats for current and future generations. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF has grown to become the nation’s largest private conservation grant-maker, funding more than 19,700 projects and generating a total conservation impact of $6.8 billion. Learn more at

About the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Grants
Every year, EPA awards more than $4 billion in funding for grants and other assistance agreements. From small non-profit organizations to large state governments, EPA works to help many visionary organizations achieve their environmental goals. With countless success stories over the years, EPA grants remain a chief tool to protect human health and the environment.

About the Chesapeake Bay Program
The Chesapeake Bay Program is a regional partnership consisting of federal, state and local governments, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations. Primarily funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Chesapeake Bay Program has set the guidance and policy for restoring the Chesapeake Bay since 1983.


Rob Blumenthal, 202-857-0166,  
EPA Region 3 Press Office