Land Conservancy partners on Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program

April 21, 2017

From Chagrin River Watershed Partners:

Chagrin River Watershed Partners, Inc. has received a national grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to support a regional collaboration to protect Lake Erie through the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program.  This project is a partnership with the Central Lake Erie Basin Collaborative, West Creek Conservancy and Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

The grant awarded to Chagrin River Watershed Partners was one of sixteen projects funded nationwide. The $200,000 award, matched with $200,000 in local in-kind contributions, will enable the Partners to work with watershed organizations and land trusts to protect and steward healthy stream corridors that flow into Lake Erie from Sandusky Bay in Erie County to Conneaut Creek at the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Project partners will use this 3-year grant to leverage $11 million for the protection of 425 miles of streams and 30,000 acres of land within Ohio’s Central Lake Erie watershed.  The project will undertake a regional approach to protecting healthy watersheds through land preservation, stream corridor enhancements, and local and regional planning.  “Chagrin River Watershed Partners is proud to receive this grant and looks forward to working with our partners to sustain Lake Erie for people and wildlife,” said Executive Director Heather Elmer.

The Central Lake Erie Basin Collaborative is a network of organizations and volunteer-based initiatives that work cooperatively to empower communities to preserve and restore Lake Erie’s watersheds in northern Ohio. Organizations and volunteer groups currently participating in this network include The Nature Conservancy, Firelands Coastal Tributaries Watershed Program, Friends of Old Woman Creek, Friends of Huron River, Friends of Vermilion River, Black River Area of Concern, Plum Creek, Rocky River Watershed Council, Cuyahoga River Restoration, Big Creek Connects, West Creek Conservancy, Mill Creek Watershed Partnership, Tinker’s Creek Watershed Partners, Friends of Yellow Creek, Friends of the Crooked River, Chippewa Creek, Brandywine Creek, Middle Cuyahoga, Breakneck Creek, Doan Brook Watershed Partnership, Bluestone Heights, Friends of Euclid Creek, Chagrin River Watershed Partners, Mentor Marsh, Arcola Creek, McKinley Creek and the Grand Ashtabula Conneaut Partnership. Watershed program staff from Erie, Cuyahoga and Lake County Soil and Water Conservation Districts also participate in the Collaborative.

This project will integrate the efforts of watershed organizations and land trusts to accelerate progress towards protection of Lake Erie and the region’s watersheds. Healthy Watersheds Consortium funding will support a model for effective, regional collaboration that can be replicated across Ohio and the nation.  The grant-funded project received support from Congressman Dave Joyce of Ohio’s 14th Congressional District. Congressman Joyce expressed that “this is about where we swim, where we fish, and most importantly, where we get our drinking water. Lake Erie provides drinking water for over 11 million people and jobs for 119,000 Ohioans. So regardless if you live right on the lake or inland, the funding of the Healthy Watersheds Consortium will contribute to the vital protection of Lake Erie. That is a direct benefit to everyone’s quality of life in Northeast Ohio.”

The Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program’s second year of awards expands the pace of proactive watershed protection in the U.S. through conservation and improved stewardship of hundreds of thousands of acres of lands that provide drinking water, flood risk reduction, and an array of economic and environmental benefits. In 2017, the Program awarded a total of $2.75 million that will benefit organizations and partnerships in 18 states. The Heathy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program is co-funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, which manages the partnership.