Conserving the Plum Island Estuary, One Drop at a Time
Purpose and Background
The purpose of the Slow the Flow grant program is to give impetus and incentive to property owners within the Plum Island Sound watershed to implement organic green landscaping project in order to improve water quality and quantity of the Plum Island Estuary.
The 2012 grants have been awarded. The awards with a description of the projects can be viewed by clicking here.
The Plum Island Estuary (PIE) is the largest wetland dominated estuary in New England, and is largely protected by conservation land. However, land use within the 600 square kilometer watershed is becoming increasingly urban, and residential runoff is now the major source of non-point source pollution to the estuary. Nitrogen pollution has been shown to degrade shellfish beds, fish, and salt marsh habits and create coastal dead zones. This impact is expected to be exacerbated with climate change, as storms increase in frequency and intensity.
Organic and green land care practices strategically implemented in uplands surrounding the estuary can reduce pollution input, increase water recharge, and increase native plant diversity.
Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest conservation land holdings in the Plum Island Estuary. The Refuge’s mission is to work with partners to protect and restore wildlife and habitats for the enjoyment of future generations of Americans.
Program Description and Eligibility
1. In 2012, the Refuge expects to award 5 to 10 grants to property owners, ranging from $500 to $1,000 per project. The applicant will be required to provide a minimum of 50% match in cash (e.g. contracted services or materials). In kind services (homeowner’s labor) are not eligible for match.
2. The program will fund one Low Impact Development project for up to $2,500.
3. Eligible projects will reduce water use, reduce use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides, improve water infiltration, reduce runoff, and increase native plant diversity in the watershed. Examples of projects include, but are not limited to:
a. Converting from traditional to organic lawncare practices
b. Installing rain gardens; dry well, or other drainage projects to increase water infiltration and retention
c. Installing native plant gardens, wildlife gardens, or border plantings
d. Low impact garden designs and installations, including porous hardscapes and green roofs.
4. All landowners, including private, commercial, and town properties within the Parker River and Ipswich River watersheds are eligible for this program. However, landowners in the towns of Newburyport, Newbury (including Byfield), West Newbury, Rowley and Ipswich will receive priority consideration. USFWS employees are not eligible for this grant.
5. The Refuge (through the Friends Group) will distribute grant money within 30 days upon receipt of proof of expenditures (e.g. cancelled checks, receipts, etc).
6. Awardees agree to allow Refuge staff or their representative to tour the project site for compliance after project completion, with advanced notice. If funding for this program is obtained for 2013, Awardees are asked to be part of a demonstration tour for next year’s workshop.
Selection Criteria and Program Guidelines
1. Landscape projects must be new and installation completed by September of 2012. Low Impact Development projects, such as pervious surfaces and green roofs, may extend project completion to 2013.
2. Applicants agree to maintain their landscaping project for a minimum of three years. For organic lawn care projects, grant funds will only reimburse first year’s expense. Landowners must commit to completing organic lawn care transition, and maintaining organic lawn care for 5 years.
3. Landowners may wish to consult with organic landscapers to develop project ideas. However, contracting professional services is not required for grant eligibility.
4. Applicants are responsible for all required federal, state, and local permit compliance associated with the landscaping project.
5. Applicants must conform to original plans and designs submitted with the grant application. Any modifications to the original plans may be approved on a case-by-case basis by Refuge staff.
6. Applicants must incur all initial improvement costs and will receive reimbursement 30 days after providing proof of payment to the Refuge. Requests for reimbursement will be made in a single, completed package. Costs not included in original plans and designs may not be approved for reimbursement.
7. Landowners are encouraged to use plants native to the Northeast; however, due to their relative unavailability, non-native plants may be used in landscaping projects. Plants should be drought tolerant, low-maintenance, and adapted to the area. Projects must avoid invasive plants (http://www.mass.gov/agr/farmproducts/prohibitedplantlist.htm). Grant money will not fund annuals. However, landowners may use purchase of annuals as their cost-share portion.
8. Each applicant may receive only one landscape grant award per year.
Click here for a PDF version or here for a Microsoft Office version of the grant application. Applications can be filled out electronically and emailed , or printed and filled out by hand. Please return by April 20, 2012 to the address listed above.
1. Landowners will complete the application, and submit to firstname.lastname@example.org on or before April 20. Applications may also be mailed or delivered to Parker River NWR HQ at 6 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport, MA.
2. Completed application projects will be reviewed and evaluated by a Grant Review Committee, consisting of Refuge staff, Greenscapes staff, and NOFA landscaper. Refuge staff will make the final determination on successful projects.
3. Projects will be evaluated based on:
a. project cost and cost share ratio
b. project design and adherence to green landscaping practices
c. long term benefit to water quality and quantity of PIE
d. diversity of green landscaping projects for demonstration purposes
4. Awards will be announced by May 4th. Successful applicants will be notified via email. Depending on the number of applications, non-successful applicants may not be notified.