The MWCC Watershed Fund provides direct support to our community-based Watershed Partners for capacity-building, professional development, and on-the-ground projects. The Watershed Fund increases the capacity of local communities to advance community-based, locally led conservation using the Watershed Approach to conservation by filling critical funding gaps.

To learn more about the MWCC Watershed Fund, click Here. For information about different types of Watershed Fund support, see our Project Support, Capacity Support, Professional Development Support, and Big Sky Watershed Corps Support pages. You may also contact MWCC Watershed Programs Coordinator Terri Nichols at terri@mtwatersheds.org.

Currently available funding opportunities are listed below.

The MWCC Watershed Fund has funding from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help local watershed organizations reduce and prevent nonpoint source pollution by implementing DEQ-accepted Watershed Restoration Plans (WRPs) by hosting a Big Sky Watershed Corps (BSWC) member in 2025. A total of $37,500 is available. Up to $7,5000 may be awarded to each qualifying organization for either: 1) offsetting the cost share payment for hosting a BSWC member, 2) assisting your member with housing costs, or 3) a combination of the two.

The estimated 2025 BSWC cost share payment is $15,500. This amount isn’t expected to go up or down by more than $500. The final cost share amount will be announced in early August, along with the release of the 2025 host site application.

Before applying for funding, please read this entire Request for Proposals thoroughly. It includes several updates and clarifications that are different from previous years’ BSWC Cost Share Support funding. We also recommend attending the BSWC Cost Share funding webinar we will host on Monday, June 24 at 3 pm. Register here. If you can’t attend in person, you’re welcome to still register and we’ll send you the recording.

Award decisions will be based in part on what percentage of your member's total service hours (aka the total number of hours they will serve with their host sites during their 11-month terms of service) will be dedicated to implementing DEQ-accepted Watershed Restoration Plans and to reducing and preventing nonpoint source pollution. (Find information on all local WRPs at DEQ's Nonpoint Source Program website by scrolling down to Watershed Restoration Plans. You can also visit the Montana Watershed Plan Viewer linked to the website) Additional funding proposal review criteria are listed below. There is a non-federal, 1:1 match requirement that can be met through cash or in-kind contributions. Because this funding comes from federal Clean Water Act funding, all match funding must come from non-federal sources.

Proposals are due by 5 pm on Thursday, July 18, 2024. Details on how to apply are below. Funding decisions will be made the week of August 12, 2024, so applicants will know whether they have received funding prior to committing to hosting a BSWC member for 2025. BSWC Program Host Site Applications will be due in early September (date TBD), and host site selection will occur soon after this date.


The purpose of this funding opportunity is to:

  • Provide local watershed organizations with the resources necessary to implement DEQ-accepted WRPs and reduce nonpoint source pollution in their watersheds.
  • Increase the capacity of local watershed communities to achieve long-term conservation goals related to improving water quality.
  • Build the next generation of conservation leaders in Montana.
  • Allow young conservation professionals with less financial means the ability to serve with the BSWC AmeriCorps program by offsetting their housing costs.


Eligibility

Local watershed organizations are eligible to apply for this funding if they plan to host a BSWC member in 2025 and if that member will spend 25% or more of their total service hours working on WRP implementation related to preventing or reducing nonpoint source pollution. The greater the percentage of total service hours a member will spend on these activities, the greater the amount of funding the host site is eligible for, up to the $7,500 maximum. Federal agencies, state agencies, and for-profit entities are not eligible.


Requirements

BSWC members supported with this funding will be required to submit one interim and one final report on their WRP-implementation activities, in late May 2025 and early November 2025, respectively. There is a non-federal, 1:1 match requirement that can be met through cash or in-kind contributions. Because this funding comes from federal Clean Water Act funding, all match funding must come from non-federal sources.


Qualifying Activities

Activities that qualify for this funding are those that implement a DEQ-accepted WRP, help to reduce or prevent nonpoint source pollution, and employ the Watershed Approach to conservation. Qualifying activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Work on restoration and pollution-prevention projects
  • Post-restoration maintenance and monitoring
  • Monitoring required by a DEQ-approved Sampling and Analysis Plan
  • Community outreach
  • Volunteer recruitment, management, and retention
  • Education
  • Creation of education and outreach materials


The following activities do not qualify for this funding:

  • Developing or updating WRPs
  • Monitoring not required by a DEQ-approved Sampling and Analysis Plan
  • Work on aspects of a WRP that do not prevent or reduce nonpoint source pollution


Potential overlaps between MWCC Watershed Fund BSWC Cost Share and Project Support Funding

In February 2025, MWCC will announce an additional funding opportunity for BSWC member-led, on-the-ground projects to reduce and prevent nonpoint source pollution. Up to $7,000 may be awarded for these competitive project grants, and a total of $28,000 will be available. Members must apply for this funding themselves, with help from their host site supervisors as needed. 


Here is a break-down of what each grant can and cannot support in terms of members’ contributions to on-the-ground projects:

BSWC Cost Share grants CAN be used to pay for:

  • Members’ time applying for project funding, including Watershed Fund BSWC Project Support funding
  • Members’ time managing, administering, or reporting on project grants, including a Watershed Fund BSWC Project Support grant
  • Members’ time planning and permitting projects
  • Members’ time implementing projects
  • Any other time a BSWC member may spend on tasks related to project implementation

BSWC Cost Share grants CANNOT be used to pay for:

  • Host site staff time working with the member on a project
  • Materials and equipment for project implementation
  • Travel
  • Education and outreach materials
  • Contracting and professional fees

Project Support grants CAN be used to pay for:

  • Host site staff time working with the member on a project
  • Materials and equipment for project implementation
  • Travel
  • Education and outreach materials
  • Contracting and professional fees

Project Support grants CANNOT be used to pay for:

  • Members’ time applying for project funding, including Watershed Fund BSWC Project Support funding
  • Members’ time managing, administering, or reporting on project grants, including a Watershed Fund BSWC Project Support grant
  • Members’ time planning and permitting projects
  • Members’ time implementing projects
  • Any other time a BSWC member may spend on tasks related to project implementation

Additionally, if a member receives a BSWC Project Support grant, all deliverables related to that project must be included in their Project Support grant reporting; those same deliverables cannot be included in members’ Cost Share grant reporting. For this reason, please refrain from including in your Cost Share funding proposal any deliverables related to project implementation that may potentially be funded by a BSWC Project Support grant. Members can always add additional deliverables to their Cost Share reporting if they work on projects that reduce and prevent NPS but are not funded by Watershed Fund BSWC Project Support funding. Also refrain from including in your Cost Share funding proposal any deliverables related to project implementation that is being funded by a separate DEQ 319 grant. If you have questions about these distinctions or the details below, please contact Terri Nichols, terri@mtwatersheds.org, (406) 210-1217.


How to Apply for BSWC Host Site Cost Share Support Funding

BSWC Cost Share Support proposals are due by 5 pm on Thursday, July 18, 2024. They must be submitted via this online form in Submittable. If at all possible, the person who submits your Cost Share funding proposal should be the person who will be working most closely with the BSWC member. In most cases, this will be the proposed host site supervisor.

If you’re new to Submittable, here’s a link explaining how to get started as a submitter. Submittable also has a new feature you may want to try: the Grant Form Autofill, a Chrome browser extension that saves your responses to common grant application inquiries, so you can type less and autofill more.

Funding decisions will be made the week of August 12, so applicants will know whether they have received funding prior to the application deadline for hosting a BSWC member for 2025. BSWC Program Host Site Applications are due in early September (date TBD), and host site selection will occur soon after this date.


Timeline

  • July 18, 2024 - Funding proposals due
  • Week of August 12, 2024 - Funding decisions made
  • September-October 2024 - Funding agreements written and signed
  • December 2024 - Funding mailed to recipients, ahead of January deadline for paying first installment of host site cost share funding
  • May 29, 2025 - BSWC members’ interim grant reports due
  • November 6, 2025 - BSWC members’ final grant reports due


Funding Proposal Review Criteria

  • Proposed member activities will directly implement a DEQ-accepted Watershed Restoration Plan.
  • Proposed member activities fall within the qualifying activities for this funding.
  • Proposed member activities will reduce and/or prevent nonpoint source pollution.
  • Proposed deliverables are reasonable and in alignment with proposed activities.
  • Proposed nonfederal match is reasonable.
  • The BSWC member's work will increase the host site organization's capacity to implement a DEQ-accepted WRP and to reduce nonpoint source pollution.
  • Hosting a BSWC member will bring additional benefits to the organization.
  • If applicable, coordination between BSWC host sites and members working on the same task or tasks in the same watershed is documented with Letters of Support.


For more information, contact MWCC Watershed Programs Coordinator Terri Nichols at terri@mtwatersheds.org or (406) 210.1217.

The MWCC Watershed Fund has funding to help Montana’s local watershed conservation organizations build their capacity to reduce and prevent nonpoint source (NPS) pollution through professional development opportunities directly related to this work. Funded opportunities must involve training to reduce and prevent NPS pollution in accordance with the Montana Nonpoint Source Management Plan and/or to support implementation of DEQ-accepted Watershed Restoration Plans (WRPs). This funding is provided in partnership with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Read the full 2024 Professional Development Support Funding page for more information.

Local watershed conservation organization personnel, including staff, board members, and Big Sky Watershed Corps (BSWC) members, may use these small grants to attend trainings, conferences, workshops, and other professional development opportunities. Awards of up to $700 may support registration fees, lodging, and travel expenses but may not cover meals or per diem. $3,000 in total funding is available. Funding requests must be submitted at least 14 days before the training or event start date.

Funding is available on a rolling basis throughout 2024, depending on availability. Awards are typically $500 or less, but the Watershed Fund considers financial need and the reality that some of our watershed conservation partners in more remote parts of Montana may have higher travel costs to some events. If more than one person from your organization will be attending the same event, please fill out just one request form covering costs for everyone attending. Funding is disbursed on a reimbursement basis, after the person who attended the event fills out a reimbursement form explaining how the opportunity will help their organization reduce or prevent nonpoint source pollution.

Purpose

The purpose of this funding is to help local watershed organizations build their capacity to reduce and prevent NPS pollution in accordance with the Montana Nonpoint Source Management Plan. This includes helping personnel acquire skills and knowledge relevant to:

  • Reducing and preventing NPS pollution in their watersheds
  • Building long-term capacity to implement DEQ-accepted WRPs.

Eligibility

Watershed conservation organizations that are supporting local communities to advance community-based, locally led conservation using the Watershed Approach to conservation are eligible. This includes watershed groups; conservation districts; irrigation districts; water quality districts; non-profits; forest collaboratives; and Tribal government agencies. Federal agencies, state agencies, individuals, and for-profit entities are not eligible.

Funds may support relevant professional development opportunities for watershed organization staff, board members, and BSWC members, but funding may only go directly to the organization, not to individuals.

What is Covered?

Awards may cover registration fees, lodging, and travel costs on a reimbursement basis, including mileage reimbursement at the current state mileage rate ($0.67 for 2024), vehicle rental fees, or alternative transportation. The Watershed Fund does not pay for meal costs or per diem. Award amounts are typically $500 or less, but we consider financial need and the reality that some of our watershed conservation partners in more remote parts of Montana may have higher travel costs to some events..

There is no match requirement for this Professional Development Support, but the Watershed Fund encourages cost-saving measures including seeking event scholarships, carpooling, alternative transportation, and shared lodging.

Requirements

To receive reimbursement, awardees must fill out a short reimbursement form detailing:

  • What skills and knowledge they gained from the professional development opportunity
  • How they will apply what they learned to reduce and prevent NPS pollution in their watershed
  • How they will apply what they learned to implement their local WRP, if applicable

Those who are awarded funding must provide receipts for registration fees, lodging, and other expenses to be reimbursed under this funding. Documentation of mileage costs is not required.

How to Apply

Submit your funding request via this online Professional Development Support Request form. If more than one person from your organization will be attending the same professional development opportunity, please fill out just one request form for everyone attending, including all anticipated costs.

If you are new to Submittable, you can click here to learn more about how to set up a free account and submit a funding request using this platform.

Word Version of Funding Request Form

Word Version of Reimbursement Form

These documents are included for your convenience, and for cutting and pasting from if you’d like. Do not use them to apply for professional development support, or to request reimbursement. All funding requests must be submitted via this online form. If your request is approved, the MWCC Watershed Fund will send you an electronic reimbursement form.

Questions?

Contact Watershed Programs Manager Terri Nichols with any questions. (406) 210-1217, terri@mtwatersheds.org

Montana Watershed Coordination Council