USFWS and NFWF Announce $3.5 Million in Grants to Restore and Protect Habitats in Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Twelve grants represent the inaugural slate of awards from the new Chesapeake Watershed Investments in Landscape Defense (WILD) program

Heron at sunset, Chesapeake Bay

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 20, 2022) – Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced 12 grants totaling $3.5 million to support wildlife habitat, climate change resilience, community conservation partnerships, and equitable access to nature in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

The first step to achieve the goals of the Chesapeake Watershed Investments in Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD) Act, the new Chesapeake WILD grant program will leverage more than $4.7 million in grantee matching funds in its inaugural year, for a total conservation impact of $8.2 million.

“The first round of grants for Chesapeake WILD sets the stage for lasting conservation impact through investments in locally led initiatives that support the health and vitality of the watershed,” said Kyla Hastie, acting regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast Region. “By complementing existing partnerships in the watershed, the program is helping to direct resources to unmet needs that reflect shared conservation priorities.”

The Chesapeake WILD program was established to support collaborative conservation in the watershed, with an emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice practices, as well as accessibility. The program provides grant funding for community-driven projects that align with five focal areas for sustaining the health of the watershed and its inhabitants into the future:  

  • Conserving and restoring fish and wildlife habitats
  • Enhancing climate resilience
  • Building community partnerships, particularly in historically underserved areas
  • Increasing public access for recreation
  • Improving water quality

The Service has partnered with NFWF to deliver the Chesapeake WILD grants program as part of the Foundation’s broader Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund—a portfolio of competitive grant programs helping to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

“NFWF has been building a legacy of partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since our Foundation’s creation by Congress nearly 40 years ago,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The grants announced today as part of this important new WILD program demonstrate the power of public-private partnerships to generate measurable outcomes for wildlife and people, both within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and throughout the nation.”

The awards announced today will result in the permanent protection of more than 3,300 acres of fish and wildlife habitat, the restoration of nearly 1,000 acres of forest and marsh habitat and more than 20 miles of rivers and streams across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The projects will also improve opportunities for local communities to access and experience the benefits of natural spaces. The grant awards include:

  • Eastern Shore Land Conservancy ($500,000) will finalize conservation easements to conserve wildlife habitat and provide a corridor for marshes to migrate inland in response to sea-level rise between Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and the Nanticoke River watershed in Maryland. The project will permanently protect 300 acres through strategic landowner-outreach efforts, making wildlife populations and ecosystems more resilient to climate change in Maryland's lower Eastern Shore.
  • West Virginia Land Trust ($500,000) will preserve and restore one of two remaining populations of the endangered James spinymussel along the South Fork of Potts Creek in the upper Potomac River watershed. The project will permanently protect a 40-acre area adjacent to the creek to support habitat and enhance recreational opportunities for communities with limited access to green space.
  • Western Pennsylvania Conservancy ($500,000) will complete projects that remove in-stream barriers preventing fish species like brook trout from accessing habitat along 20 stream miles on state game lands.
  • Ducks Unlimited ($476,000) will enhance water management capabilities at Doe Creek Wildlife Management Area on Virginia’s Eastern Shore through new water control structures and other measures that improve management of 147 acres of tidal wetlands for waterfowl and recreational benefit.
  • NDPonics ($75,000) will undertake a hydrological assessment of a 54-acre wetland bordering Rockbridge and Botetourt Counties in Virginia that supports habitat for endangered species and migratory birds. The project will result in a plan to help the Indigenous-led nonprofit organization restore wetland habitat and prevent the failure of an earthen embankment that created a nearly 10-acre lake at the site. 

A full list of 2022 Chesapeake WILD grant projects is available here. For more information about NFWF’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, please visit


About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants, and habitats. Working with federal, corporate, and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 6,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $7.4 billion. Learn more at 


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