Program supports holistic protection and restoration of coastal aquatic resources
On Dec. 9, 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 began soliciting proposals under its West Coast Estuaries Initiative (WEI) to support the protection and restoration of highly valued aquatic resources in coastal areas threatened by growth pressure.The grant program emphasizes local, holistic watershed protection and management approaches. Grant funds will assist local and tribal governments in managing land uses while protecting watershed functions and values. Successful projects will match proposed activities to the appropriate watershed scale to ensure environmental results.The EPA plans to award a total of $2.8 million dollars in 2009. Proposals are due to the agency by Feb. 19, 2009. Up to seven awards will be made available, ranging from about $400,000 to $600,000. Local governments, special purpose districts and federally recognized Indian tribes west of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington state and in Cook Inlet near Anchorage, Alaska, are eligible to apply. State agencies, institutions of higher learning and nongovernmental entities are not eligible to directly receive these grant awards; however, the EPA encourages tribes and local governments to solicit their participation as local collaborators.Similar watershed protection grants were awarded last spring to eight Puget Sound communities led by Skagit, Whatcom, King, Thurston, and Clallam counties and the Squaxin Island Tribe. Proposed projects included: connecting watershed information to land-use decisions; applying education programs and land stewardship incentives; evaluating the effectiveness of current zoning and regulations; acquiring land for habitat protection; protecting shellfish areas; and studying the sources and impacts of nitrogen pollution in sensitive marine areas.For more information about the grant process and WEI, visit http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/water.nsf/office+of+water/wei08rfp .