CA Conservation Dept. Taking Applications for Forest Health Watershed Coordinator Grant Program

By on December 20, 2018

A study by the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment to evaluate the success of grants for watershed coordinators — provided between 2000 and 2015 by the California Department of Conservation – to facilitate collaborative efforts to improve and sustain the health of California’s watersheds has been effective.  Preliminary findings of the study indicate that the watershed coordinators successfully leveraged over seven times the funds invested in those positions to develop watershed management plans and implement watershed restoration projects.

The study also found that watershed coordinators successfully facilitated collaborations between diverse groups of stakeholders and cultivated numerous partnerships to address multiple social and ecological issues on a watershed scale, improving the efficiency with which state funds have been utilized in order to meet multiple watershed improvement and management goals. The 2016 Sierra Institute study had been commissioned by the Department of Conservation to evaluate the success of these grants. The program is funded by the California Environmental License Plate Fund.

Under the direction of Governor Jerry Brown, the Forest Climate Action Team (FCAT) was assembled in August of 2014 with the primary purpose of developing a Forest Carbon Plan (FCP). FCAT — comprised of executive level members from many of the state’s natural resources agencies, state and federal forest land managers, and other key partners directly or indirectly involved in California forestry — released the Forest Carbon Plan in May 2018. The Forest Health Watershed Coordinator Grant Program is designed to facilitate the development and implementation of watershed improvement plans consistent with the Forest Carbon Plan and Executive Order B-52-18.

The FCP calls for significant increases in the pace and scale of forest and watershed improvements to restore the health and resilience of California’s forests and ensure that California’s forests remain net carbon basins that provide a range of ecosystem and social benefits. Additionally, the Forest Carbon Plan encourages the protection of California’s forested lands, reduction of conversion to non-forest uses, and the pursuit of innovations in wood products and biomass utilization to reduce or offset Green House Gas emissions; promotes land stewardship; and strengthens rural economies and communities.

Applications for the Forest Health Watershed Coordinator Grant Program are now available and are due no later than February 15, 2019. Currently $1.89 million is available under the Grant Program Guidelines. Grants will be awarded in the following manner:

  • Eight (8) grants of up to $235,000 each will be available to fund watershed coordinators in specific watershed coordinator zones. The distribution of grants will be prioritized as follows:
  • Six (6) grants will be awarded to the top applicants representing watersheds within the Sierra Nevada and Cascade watershed coordinator zone.
  • Two (2) grants will be awarded to the top applicants representing the North and Central Coast watershed coordinator zone.
  • If regional collaborative grants are awarded, the Department has discretion to combine grants accordingly.

For the entire plan and the information needed to qualify and apply for the Forest Health Watershed Coordinator Grant Program, go to: https://www.conservation.ca.gov/dlrp/grant-programs/watershed/Documents/2018%20WCGP%20RFP%2012.07.18%20final.pdf.