NAWCA Standard Grants

The NAWCA Standard Grants program can help fund large-scale wetland projects. Principal conservation actions supported by the program are acquisition (fee-title or easements), restoration and enhancement of wetlands, rivers and streams along with wetland-associated uplands, and long-term leases of these habitats. Up to $1,000,000 may be requested and requires a one-to-one match with non-federal funds. Developing a standard grant proposal takes a significant amount of time, regardless of whether you are a first-time or seasoned applicant, so it is best to start the process early. Application deadlines are twice a year in late winter and mid-summer.

Scoring Criteria

If a project has good wetland conservation value, brings a number of partners together, has more than a one-to-one match, and contributes to conservation plans, the project should do well. All proposals are scored on a set of evaluation questions, with a total of 100 points possible. PLJV can help you develop your project and proposal to meet all the scoring criteria, as outlined below.

Waterfowl – 15 points maximum

  • High priority species – 7 possible points
  • Other priority species – 5 possible points
  • Other waterfowl – 3 possible points

Wetland-associated Migratory Birds – 15 points maximum

  • Priority bird species
  • Other wetland-associated bird species

Priority Wetlands as Recognized by Major Migratory Bird Conservation Plans – 15 points maximum

  • National geographic priority wetland areas – 9 possible points
  • Regionally important wetland areas – 6 possible points

Wetlands Status and Trends – 10 points maximum

  • Decreasing wetlands – 10 possible points
  • Stable wetlands – 4 possible points
  • Increasing wetlands – 1 possible point
  • No trend data – 1 possible point
  • Uplands – 8 possible points

Long-term Conservation and Climate Change – 15 points maximum

  • Benefits in perpetuity – 12 possible points
  • Benefits for 26-99 years – 8 possible points
  • Benefits for 10-25 years – 6 possible points
  • Benefits for over 10 years – 4 possible points
  • Significance to long-term conservation and climate change – 3 possible points

Endangered Species and Other Wetland-dependent Fish and Wildlife – 10 points maximum

  • Federal endangered, threatened or proposed species – 5 possible points
  • State species of greatest conservation need – 5 possible points

Partnerships – 20 points maximum

  • Ratio of non-federal match to grant request – 6 possible points
  • Number of matching partners contributing 10% of grant request – 3 possible points
  • Number of partner categories – 4 possible points
  • Important partnership aspects – 5 possible points
  • Public access – 2 possible points

Project Examples

NAWCA Standard Grants have been used to fund a variety of large wetland complex restoration projects and many easement conservations along streams in the PLJV region. Because playas are the primary source of recharge for the Ogallala aquifer, standard grants may also be a significant source of funds for local governments seeking to deal with declining aquifer levels through playa conservation.

Platte River Confluence, Nebraska – Ducks Unlimited
This project included the conservation of riparian habitat along both the North and South Platte Rivers near their confluence in North Platte, Nebraska. It permanently protected 1,907 acres of wetlands and associated habitats through direct acquisition or perpetual conservation easements. Most of the conservation easements were “bargain sale” conservation easements, whereby approximately 90% of the total value of the easement was voluntarily donated by the landowner. The North Platte River provides important migration and wintering habitat for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and other migratory birds. Thirteen partners contributed over twice the $1,000,000 request in match.

Jamestown Wildlife Area III, Kansas – Ducks Unlimited
This project was the third project for the Jamestown Wildlife Area. The wetland complex provides important migration habitat in the Central Flyway. Historically, Jamestown and Talmo Marsh were expansive wetland habitats, salt flats and meandering riparian areas. In recent years, Ducks Unlimited and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism have been partnering with other conservation groups to acquire and restore the original marsh habitats. This grant supported the acquisition of the Talmo Marsh Wildlife Area and implemented a comprehensive wetland restoration project on the site. Almost 1,000 acres of seasonal wetland habitat, including salt marsh, were restored and protected. On the Jamestown Wildlife Area, three properties adjacent to Game Keeper Marsh were acquired through fee-title or conservation easements, and Game Keeper Dam itself was raised by 18 inches, enhancing the original 765-acre marsh and restoring an additional 600 acres of seasonal wetland habitat. Twelve partners contributed almost $1,000,000 to match over $950,000 of a NAWCA request.

We Can Help

PLJV can help conceptualize the project, suggest additional partners, review the proposal, and provide the necessary bird conservation information including the project value for birds. PLJV has proposal examples and has developed a suggested timeline to help applicants stay on top of proposal requirements. For example, certain portions of the proposal will need to be submitted under If you have not previously worked with that website, you’ll need to set up an account at least three weeks prior to when you’d like to submit your proposal to receive a username and password.

If you are interested in developing a NAWCA standard grant proposal, contact Christopher Rustay at 505-414-0342 well in advance of when you would like to submit your proposal.