The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is partnering with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to open the sixth request for proposals for the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund (DWCF). The program is accepting applications until March 16, 2023, for matching grants of $75,000 to $1,500,000 each for projects that support the health and vitality of the Delaware River watershed.

The Service will make $14.4 million available to fund projects in four priority areas:

  • Restoring fish and wildlife habitats
  • Improving water quality
  • Reducing flooding and runoff
  • Enhancing safe recreational access for the public

This year the program has set aside $1 million for grant proposals that benefit at-risk species or their priority habitats.

The funding total includes $4.7 million made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) each year through 2026 to support projects that use nature-based infrastructure to improve wildlife habitat, sustain ecological functions in the face of climate change, and directly address environmental-justice priorities identified by communities.

What’s new:

In 2023, the DWCF will support grants in four categories:

  1. Implementation
  2. Capacity building
  3. Planning
  4. Research, monitoring, and evaluation

Applicant support – To support applicants and program stakeholders, the Service and NFWF provide an assortment of technical assistance tools to help partners develop competitive proposals, these include:

Proposal Labs – These labs will strengthen alignment between Delaware River Basin Restoration Program priorities and stakeholders’ capabilities and goals. Virtual proposal labs provide a space and time (Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.) where partners can share proposal ideas, receive coaching and constructive feedback, and learn from shared experiences. During lab hours, program staff and technical experts work directly with applicants to provide the support needed to develop competitive proposals that align with Delaware program and BIL priorities, ensuring that the DWCF funds the most effective and innovative conservation activities in the Delaware River watershed. Sign up here

Applicant webinars – Applicant webinars are designed to assist applicants, and those supporting applicants, through the process of applying to the DWCF. The range of topics includes priorities targeted in the Request for Funding Proposal (RFP), using the Easygrant system, BIL priorities, and using an interactive mapper to discern if your project location is in a an ecologically important area.

Each session is hosted virtually and consists of a presentation followed by an opportunity for questions at the end. Webinars are scheduled for February 2023 and are hosted by USFWS and NFWF program staff.  Register here.

On-line resources – An applicant tip sheet and toolbox are available to stakeholders online and provide a deeper dive into contextual information relevant for proposal development. These tools are most helpful when used alongside the DWCF RFP and webinar series.

This post was adapted from information sent along to WeConservePA by our partners in the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (CDRW).