Wild & Scenic Rivers Community Watershed Science Funding

The application deadline has passed.

River Network and the National Park Service (NPS) are excited to announce a funding opportunity for nonprofit organizations working on community watershed science activities on NPS administered Wild and Scenic Rivers and Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers. This funding is a continuation of a 2018 initiative to encourage citizen science on Wild and Scenic Rivers called Swim, Splash, Smile. Funding will range from $3,000-$10,000 per award for work occurring between July 15th, 2020 and November 16th, 2020.

To determine whether your Wild and Scenic River is administered by NPS, or is a state administered river eligible for this funding, please see the NPS WSR map.

Goals of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Community Watershed Science Funding

The Wild and Scenic Rivers (WSR) Act was created in 1968 to protect some of our nation’s most amazing rivers. The goal of these grants is to provide staff and volunteers of local nonprofit organizations support to become involved in science that supports river management and to strengthen partnerships between these groups and the NPS. Community watershed science is an effective way to improve science, inform river management, expand interest from the public, and strengthen relationships between management agencies and our communities. This funding opportunity seeks to engage people living in the vicinity of these special rivers to become involved with NPS in their continued protection and management, which is integral to ensuring that the values of these WSRs and their tributary streams are both protected and enhanced at the local level.

Impacts of COVID-19

Please know that we recognize that it may be challenging to plan community watershed science activities right now given the uncertainty regarding the impact of COVID-19 and that scheduled activities may need to be postponed or shifted. We will both be deemphasizing activities reaching large groups of people in person (virtual outreach is eligible) and will work to provide maximum flexibility for award recipients. All activities funded under this opportunity must follow any applicable local, state or national guidelines for COVID-19.

Projects and Activities

Grants are targeted at improving the water quality and health of Wild and Scenic Rivers and the watersheds that surround them.  Activities that meet the goals of this funding include, but are not limited to:

  • Water quality, quantity and habitat monitoring;
  • Plant and animal inventory and monitoring;
  • Quantification of pollution sources (including trash); and
  • Stream restoration activities using green infrastructure (e.g. riparian restoration, habitat improvement).

Examples of past projects include a high school-led study of the effects of dispersed campsites on social trails, and a volunteer led effort to monitor the effects of dam removal on mussel communities To read more about these, see https://www.nps.gov/articles/swim-splash-smile.htm.

Grant Process

Applications for this funding can be submitted via the application below and include:

  • A description of the project, timeline, a budget narrative and budget worksheet;
  • A description of what metrics will be used to evaluate the project;
  • A description of how project stories will be shared more broadly via e.g. social media, blog, etc.
  • IRS 501(c)(3) letter.


  • Grant applications are due by COB June 8, 2020
  • Awards will be made no later than July 10, 2020
  • Activities can take place through November 16, 2020
  • Final reports will be due to River Network by December 15, 2020.

Who Qualifies for these Grants

  • Any 501(c)(3) organization working or planning community watershed science on NPS administered WSRs, Partnership WSRs and state-administered rivers that partner with NPS;
  • All applicants must be a free or paid member of River Network.

How Much Money Is Available

There is currently a total of $45,000 available. Groups are eligible to apply for one grant of $3,000-$10,000. Examples of what funds can be used for include: staff time, equipment, and reimbursement for volunteer expenses. Please see budget template for all budget categories.

Evaluation Criteria

River Network and NPS will select projects based on criteria including: what will be accomplished and how that furthers the values of WSRs, ultimately reaching communities new to WSRs, and how the project provides benefits to both rivers and people.

For questions, please contact Katherine Baer, River Network (kbaer@rivernetwork.org) or Jennifer Back, National Park Service (Jennifer_Back@nps.gov)

Further Information:

NPS Wild and Scenic Rivers

Funding Application

The application deadline has passed.