How are Stream Management Plans funded?

In recent years, the State of Colorado has allocated up to $5 million to the Colorado Watershed Restoration Program (CWRP) grant program to develop projects and plans that protect or restore watershed health and stream function. This funding kick-started local interest across Colorado to develop stream management plans (SMP).

The cost of SMP development can range from less than $100,000 to $2-3 million, depending on project size and scope. Most SMPs are at least partially funded by grants from the State of Colorado, discussed in more detail below. Completed plans and plans currently under development have an average budget of approximately $250,000. SMPs are often completed in phases, where initial phases concentrate resources on gathering baseline data, securing solid stakeholder engagement, or focusing on a small reach of river or section of the watershed, and later phases build on the first phase with an eye toward implementation projects.

Funding for SMP development is available on a cost-share basis through the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s (CWCB) Colorado Watershed Restoration Grant Program. Established nonprofits, watershed coalitions, State of Colorado departments and agencies, local governments, conservation and water conservancy districts, and Colorado’s two Ute Tribes are eligible to apply. Application guidance is available through the CWCB’s Colorado Watershed Restoration Program Grant Program website. CWRP can be flexible in what it supports, but the activities supported with grant funds must have a strong focus on environmental and/or recreational values, while also including the needs of consumptive water users. For example, an assessment of the infrastructure rehabilitation needs of irrigators could be funded as long as it is part of an analysis of the opportunities for multi-purpose projects that have environmental benefits for an impaired reach (e.g., fish passage). It must be coupled with an assessment of river health to be eligible for funding.

CWCB funds from the Colorado Watershed Restoration Program may not exceed 50 percent of the total cost of the individual plan or project. Grant applications are due every November. Other CWCB funds—available through basin roundtables or other grant programs—may be available as well. Matching funds may consist of a combination of in-kind and cash, but no more than half of the match may be in the form of in-kind services. If you’re interested in applying for grant funding but still need local matching funds, your local basin roundtable is a good place to start. Examples of match funding sources that have been successful for other communities include contributions from water conservancy or conservation districts, allocations through city and county budgets, donations of money or time from conservation groups like a local Trout Unlimited chapter or watershed group, contributions from water providers or municipal utilities, local business support, and the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSmart program.

CWCB grant guidance information on eligibility of matching funds and in-kind match:

Cash Match

Actual expenditures paid directly with cash funds from the grantee to a vendor. Examples are supplies, services, and necessary equipment purchase or rental.

In-Kind Match

Services and labor provided by the paid staff of the grantee to perform all or part of the approved project scope of work, including necessary project administration. This can include standard direct and indirect personnel fringe benefits. Volunteer services provided at no cost to the applicant by firms or individuals consistent with the approved scope of work will be valued for in-kind match at local prevailing wage rates. Project-specific land acquisition or access agreement costs may also be claimed as in-kind contributions and credited against the minimum requirement.

Costs that CANNOT be considered

General organization operating costs such as utilities, operating supplies and services, amortized costs or rental costs for buildings and equipment used for the general operation of the organization, and general property and liability insurance costs, nor will overhead per cent charges to cover such items be allowed. These business expenses are NOT reimbursable costs and may not be claimed as matching contributions.

CWCB grant guidance information on eligibility of matching funds and in-kind match:

Cash Match

Actual expenditures paid directly with cash funds from the grantee to a vendor. Examples are supplies, services, and necessary equipment purchase or rental.

In-Kind Match

Services and labor provided by the paid staff of the grantee to perform all or part of the approved project scope of work, including necessary project administration. This can include standard direct and indirect personnel fringe benefits. Volunteer services provided at no cost to the applicant by firms or individuals consistent with the approved scope of work will be valued for in-kind match at local prevailing wage rates. Project-specific land acquisition or access agreement costs may also be claimed as in-kind contributions and credited against the minimum requirement.

Costs that CANNOT be considered

General organization operating costs such as utilities, operating supplies and services, amortized costs or rental costs for buildings and equipment used for the general operation of the organization, and general property and liability insurance costs, nor will overhead per cent charges to cover such items be allowed. These business expenses are NOT reimbursable costs and may not be claimed as matching contributions.

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