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National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) Land Acquisition and Construction Program for Fiscal Year 2020

Grants to USA Agencies and Universities in Eligible Regions
for Capital Projects to Protect Natural Resources

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce

Deadline Date:

02/14/20 11:59 PM ET


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Grants to USA and territories government agencies and universities for capital projects that protect natural water bodies in eligible regions. Applicants are advised that required registrations may take 30 days or more to complete. Funded projects support construction and land acquisition, and are intended to protect important water and land areas, enhance long-term protection of reserve areas for research and education, and provide for facility and exhibit construction that meet the highest sustainable design standards possible.

Eligible applicants are NERRS lead state agencies or universities designated to receive NERRS operations funding through a Memorandum of Understanding with NOAA in coastal states including the Pacific, Gulf, Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes.

Program Objective: 

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS or System) consists of estuarine areas of the United States and its territories designated and managed for research and educational purposes. Each Reserve within the system is chosen to represent a different bio-geographic region and to include a variety of ecosystem types in accordance with the classification scheme of the national program as specified in 15 CFR 921. By funding designated Reserve agencies and universities to conduct land acquisition and construction projects that support the NERRS mission, NOAA will strengthen protection of key land and water areas, enhance long-term protection of Reserve areas for research and education, and provide for facility and exhibit construction that meet the highest sustainable design standards possible.

NOAA provides funding to designated Reserve agencies for acquiring additional property interests and for construction projects that serve to strengthen protection of reserve key land and water areas; to enhance long-term protection of reserve areas for research and education; and provide for facility and exhibit construction. Each Reserve supports a wide range of beneficial uses important to ecological, economic, recreational, and aesthetic values, which are dependent upon the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem. The sites provide habitats for a wide range of ecologically and commercially important species of fish, shellfish, birds, and other aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. Each Reserve has been designated to ensure its effectiveness as a conservation unit and as a site for long-term research and monitoring. In maintaining their effectiveness, the Reserves may find it necessary to expand their boundaries through strategically planned land acquisitions and/or to develop or enhance their reserve facilities, including their in-situ monitoring infrastructure, to meet the demands of research, monitoring, and education program objectives.

Within the NERRS, Construction and/or acquisition plans require the following information:

  1. A construction plan must include general descriptions of proposed projects and general cost estimates. Sufficient information should be provided for both major and minor proposed construction projects to clearly articulate requirements in the initial phase of the project. See 15 CFR 921.13(a)(6).
  2. An acquisition plan must identify the ecologically key land and water areas of the Reserve, rank these areas according to their relative importance, describe the methods of acquisition, and include a strategy for establishing adequate long-term state control over these areas sufficient to provide protection for reserve resources to ensure a stable environment for research. See 15 CFR 921.13(a)(7).

For  program priorities, see the following link:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 182589

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

NOAA anticipates funding will be available for approximately 5-20 construction and acquisition projects.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Awards are expected to range from approximately $20,000 to $1,000,000 per project.

Term of Contract:

The performance period for FY 2020-funded projects cannot exceed 36 months. Applicants may submit applications covering a 12 to 36- month project period with anticipated start date(s) as early as July 1, 2020 or as late as November 1, 2020.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible Applicants:

Eligible applicants are NERRS lead state agencies or universities designated to receive NERRS operations funding through a Memorandum of Understanding with NOAA in coastal states including the Pacific, Gulf, Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes. Eligible applicants should meet requirements as stated in the NERRS regulations codified at 15 CFR 921.32 which are available online at:

Federal agencies and employees are not allowed to receive funds under this announcement but may serve as collaborative project partners. Federal agencies and employees’ ‘in-kind’ services cannot be considered as part of an applicant’s match on shared costs. If federal agencies are collaborators, applicants are expected to provide detail on the planned level of federal engagement in the application. Examples might include, but are not limited to partnership services; serving in a review capacity; or participating in priority task teams, working groups, or leadership teams.

Other Criteria that Affect Eligibility:

Projects eligible for funding must be identified in construction and/or acquisition plans, within the most recent NOAA approved reserve management plans in compliance with 15 CFR 921.13. Acquisition projects that involve the potential to invoke eminent domain are not eligible for funding. Construction projects must occur on land under adequate state control either through direct state ownership or pursuant to a long-term lease between the Reserve and the landowner. See also the clarification on the meaning of adequate state control set out at 15 CFR 921.30(d).

Eligible costs associated for administrative purposes related to acquisition and/or facility construction per 15 CFR 921.81; see also 2 CFR 200, Subpart E. Cost Principles [for Federal Awards]. Facility and acquisition planning alone may not constitute a proposal, but planning and administrative tasks may constitute up to 20% of facility and/or acquisition costs within the proposal. These planning efforts may address, among other things, evaluation of sustainable features appropriate for reserve future facility needs and associated maintenance.

Construction or acquisition projects identified in an approved management plan, including small scale projects to support monitoring infrastructure such as boardwalks and monitoring platforms, as well as small scale habitat restoration activities associated with construction and acquisition, are eligible for funding per 15 CFR 921.31.

However, routine structural maintenance including unscheduled and scheduled maintenance repairs of buildings, structures, and installed building equipment to correct deficiencies is not eligible for funding. This includes preventive maintenance to achieve the expected life of the constructed asset and installed building equipment. Per this announcement, funding may be proposed for preserving historic or culturally significant structures, preparing a site for facility construction or acquisition, installing an ecological demonstration project, restoring habitat impacted by construction activities, or for minor restoration or enhancement activities to improve properties being acquired (e.g., clearing of invasive species or hydrologic obstructions). No more than 20% of the total budget of a project budget (federal and matching share combined) may be applied to restoration activities associated with construction or acquisition projects.

Pre-Application Information:

Complete grant applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, February 14, 2020

The amount of Federal funds requested must be matched by the applicant as follows: 30 percent total project match for construction awards and 50 percent total project match for land acquisition awards as indicated in 15 CFR Part 921.31. Recipient contributions and third party in-kind contributions directly benefiting the project may be used to satisfy the matching requirements.

Any applicant awarded in response to this announcement will be required to use the System for Award Management (SAM)

Applicants are required to use the Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System. A recipient's DUNS number must correspond with the recipient's information in SAM.Gov.

Applicants should allow a minimum of thirty days to receive a DUNS number and to be registered in SAM.Gov, or to assure that required annual updates are complete. Applicants are strongly encouraged not to wait until the application deadline date to begin the application process through

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For a list of application documents, see the Package tab (press Preview) on the page above.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Matt Chasse, Office for Coastal Management

Lamar Revis, Grants Officer
NOAA Grants Management Division
1325 East West Highway, 9th Floor Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

Grant Coverage Areas:

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Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   California;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Mississippi;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New York;   North Carolina;   Ohio;   Oregon;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   Texas;   Virginia;   Washington;   Wisconsin

USA Territories: Puerto Rico (USA)

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