Healthy Lakes & Rivers Grants

Do you need some seed money to grow the Healthy Lakes & Rivers initiative in your community?

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources can help with Healthy Lakes & Rivers Grants. Any eligible applicant can apply for these grants. Please note DNR cannot provide Healthy Lakes & Rivers funding directly to individual shoreland property owners. The grants provide up to $1,000 per Best Practice and up to $25,000 for an eligible applicant applying on behalf of multiple property owners.

Learn more about eligible applicants, guidance for applying, and the review/ranking criteria used to prioritize projects.
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5 Steps to Funding

Step 1

Review the grant application.

Visit the Wisconsin DNR’s Surface Water Grants Website to learn more about the grant program. Check in with your local DNR Environmental Grant Specialist and Lake Biologist to be sure your group is eligible to apply and get guidance on next steps.

rock bass swimming amongst healthy vegetation and fish sticks

Step 2

Recruit shoreland property owners to participate.

Contact folks around your lake or river to see if they are interested in implementing a Healthy Lakes & Rivers practice on their property. Successful recruitment tools include presenting at your lake or river organization meeting, surveying your community, hands-on workshops, and good ol’ door knocking.

Get Started Brochure Order Now

This self-evaluation checklist can be provided to property owners to get ready for the next step.

Social Science Information

Step 3

Complete initial site visit and design work.

Once you know who will be implementing Healthy Lakes & Rivers practices on their property, set up site visits to identify where the practices will be implemented and determine if any design work is needed.

The following resources can help make your project happen:
1. Local citizen champions – perhaps a master gardener or retired engineer
2. Landscapers
3. Native Plant Nurseries of Wisconsin
4. Wisconsin Restoration Contractors
5. Graduates of the Lakeshore Habitat Restoration Training for Professionals
6. County Land and Water Conservation Departments
7. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and University of Wisconsin-Extension professionals
8. Healthy Lakes & Rivers Team members
9. Decision Tool: Managing Runoff with Healthy Lakes & Rivers Practices Order Now

Keep in mind that Healthy Lakes & Rivers projects are intended to be relatively simple and low-cost so extensive design work is neither necessary nor expected for grant application purposes.

Step 4

Apply for funding.

Use your shoreland property owner list and site visit work to complete the Healthy Lakes & Rivers Grant application. In the application list participating properties and the best practice(s) and cost(s) for the given properties. You should also describe the lake(s) and/or rivers(s), partners, and how the project fits into other planning efforts. All Healthy Lakes & Rivers applications are due November 15 each year, and funding is determined by March. First-time applicants are required to complete a pre-application due September 15. The grant program is competitive and successful applicants give considerable thought to their project before applying. Work with your regional DNR Lake Biologist and Environmental Grants Specialist to create a strong application.

1. Application
2. Authorizing resolution
3. Map with project (i.e. parcel) locations

quiet fall lake landscape

Step 5

Your grant is awarded. Congratulations! Now what?

The DNR will notify you whether or not you received a grant award. If you were successful, you will receive a Grant Agreement soon after this good news. The Grant Agreements are standardized across all Healthy Lakes & Rivers projects and require the same deliverables. Healthy Lakes & Rivers Grants are reimbursement grants. This means the shoreland property owner or grant applicant spends his/her/their own money and then gets reimbursed by the state. Be sure to track volunteer time and project expenses. Now you are ready to roll!

Financial Administration Fact Sheet
Example Report (download fillable Word document)
Example Grant Agreement
Example Project Workflow