TREASURE COAST/BREVARD COUNTY ― The Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program is now accepting grant proposals for projects that benefit the Indian River Lagoon.

Up to $1,000,000 is available in four categories: water quality restoration projects; habitat restoration projects; community-based habitat restoration projects; and science and innovation projects.

Funding for the first three categories is from local contributions made by the IRL Council and specialty license plate sales. Funding for the fourth category is from the U.S. EPA under the Clean Water Act.

Approximately $500,000 is expected to be available for water quality improvement projects.

The priorities for water quality improvement projects are proposals that specifically identify ecosystem benefits in the Indian River Lagoon.

Water quality projects should address, but are not limited to, reduction or removal of excess nutrients and other contaminants from land-based or legacy sources. Examples include stormwater and wastewater projects; septic to sewer conversions; groundwater remediation projects; and muck removal and management projects.

Project proposals must document how the project directly improves water quality. Water quality restoration projects must demonstrate a minimum cost-share match of 50% of the total project cost.

Approximately $200,000 is available for habitat restoration projects. Priority will be given to high-quality, well-designed proposals that can substantiate their ability to restore natural habitats.

Projects focused on citizen engagement will not be considered under this category. Projects focused on community volunteers should instead be submitted under the community-based restoration category.

The IRLNEP is especially interested in projects regarding filter feeder restoration that reintroduce filter feeders and filter feeder habitat. Proposals regarding clam and/or oyster restoration will be considered, with preference to oyster restoration projects that do not use plastic materials.

This category also includes such projects as living shoreline restoration and habitat inventory and assessments that fill gaps in current assessments and/or complete a lagoon-wide habitat inventory/assessment to guide future restoration projects.

Approximately $200,000 is available for community-based restoration projects conducted primarily through the use of volunteers. If the proposed restoration project does not utilize volunteers, the project should be submitted under the habitat restoration category instead.

Community-based restoration projects that emphasize citizen engagement and citizen science projects that restore water quality and/or natural habitats will be prioritized. Proposals that improve and expand the capacity of existing citizen engagement programs are preferred over new programs.

Funding priority for this category will be given to projects that address impaired waters, wastewater, stormwater, seagrasses, and harmful algal blooms.

Examples include citizen-driven restoration projects that support water quality and/or habitat restoration; and projects that address recurring needs of the community, such as provision of oyster shells, live oysters, clams, or seagrasses; and provision of native plants and materials for creation of living shorelines or restorations of wetlands or marshes.

This category is also open to student-based water quality and habitat restoration projects that incorporate scientific research; projects that benefit rural, underrepresented, and economically disadvantaged communities; and projects that build coastal resilience to flooding, storm surge and sea level rise, or enhance community emergency-response capacity.

Approximately $100,000 is available for the fourth category, science and innovation projects.

Priorities for this category are science and technology that supports restoration of water quality and habitats.

Examples include innovative approaches to predict or mediate harmful algal blooms; science-driven and/or new technology approaches that support lagoon monitoring or management; and projects to better understand nutrient cycling/reduction, muck management, biosolids management, and threats to human and wildlife health.

Proposal packages are due by Jan. 11, 2021 by 5 p.m.

Proposals are required to be submitted via electronic mail in PDF format to Chief Operating Officer Daniel Kolodny, kolodny@irlcouncil.org, with a copy to Deputy Director Kathy Hill, hill@irlcouncil.org. Applications will not be accepted via U.S. Postal Service or other mail carrier.

For more information, visit https://onelagoon.org/open-proposal-requests/. Address any questions in writing to info@irlcouncil.org.

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