Request for Partnership Proposals/Letters of Interest for the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program

The California State Coastal Conservancy (Conservancy) seeks partners for joint applications for coastal wetlands acquisition and/or restoration projects on the California coast or in San Francisco Bay to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 round of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) National Coastal Wetlands Conservation (NCWC) Grant Program. Only designated state agencies, including the Conservancy, are eligible to apply for NCWC grants. However, the Conservancy can work in partnership with state and local agencies, tribes, and certain non-profits to develop and submit NCWC proposals. The Conservancy can pass through NCWC grant funds to its partners to implement projects. While federal agencies can’t receive NCWC grant funds, NCWC-funded projects can be implemented on federal lands.

If your project is selected, the Conservancy will work with you to prepare a NCWC grant proposal, which may or may not be awarded funding by the USFWS. The Conservancy will not award state funding grants directly through this solicitation. The USFWS selects proposals for award through a merit-based, national competitive review process. The deadline to submit NCWC proposals to the USFWS for FY 2019 has not been set, but is expected to be in mid- to late June 2018. If projects are awarded a NCWC grant, funding will be available for implementation as early as Spring 2019. USFWS will need to meet its project-related environmental compliance requirements before making funding available. A full description of the NCWC program can be found here:

NCWC provides grants of up to $1,000,000 for the protection and/or restoration of coastal wetlands. Grants are for project implementation, although it is permissible to utilize a small amount (~15%) of the grant for biological surveys or monitoring, planning and permitting if those activities are closely tied to implementation. Projects should be ready for implementation in Summer 2019 or 2020. Projects will be more competitive if the project area is primarily made up of jurisdictional wetlands. The NCWC grant program requires a non-federal match of at least 25% of the total project cost, consisting of either cash or in-kind contributions, and additional points are awarded for match of up to 33% of the total project cost. The Conservancy may be able to provide some or all of the required match, but project partners with their own match will increase the Conservancy’s capacity to carry out more projects. The NCWC program also prioritizes projects that involve multiple partners providing a cash or in-kind contribution. All projects must ensure long-term (at least 20 years) conservation of coastal resources.

Eligible Activities include:

1. Acquisition of a real property interest (e.g., conservation easement or fee title) in coastal lands or waters (coastal wetlands ecosystems) from willing sellers or partners for long-term conservation;

2. Restoration, enhancement, or management of coastal wetlands ecosystems; or

3. A combination of acquisition, restoration, and management.

Ineligible Activities include, but are not limited to:

1. Projects that primarily benefit navigation, irrigation, flood control, or mariculture;

2. Acquisition, restoration, enhancement or management of lands required as the result of a regulatory or decision-making process to mitigate habitat losses;

3. Creation of wetlands where wetlands did not previously exist;

4. Enforcement of fish and wildlife laws and regulations, except when necessary for the accomplishment of approved project purposes;

5. Research;

6. Planning as a primary project focus;

7. Operations and maintenance, including long-term invasive species management;

8. Acquisition and/or restoration of upper portions of watersheds where benefits to the coastal wetlands ecosystem are not significant and direct; and

9. Projects providing less than 20 years of conservation benefits.

More information about NCWC grants, including the FY 2018 Notice of Funding Opportunity, is available here: Note that the FY 2019 Notice of Funding Opportunity for the NCWC program has not yet been released.

Letter of Interest Submittal: To indicate your interest in partnering with the Conservancy on a NCWC proposal, please submit a brief (~2-4 page) letter of interest via email to The letter should include the following information: 1) 1-2 sentence summary of proposed project, 2) description of the need for the project, 3) description of the proposed project and how it addresses the need, 4) estimated project cost and description of potential match, 5) approximate timeline for project implementation (include information of the status of project design and environmental review for restoration projects), 6) indicate whether you have a willing seller for acquisition projects, and 7) list of potential project partners and their roles in the project. Include a map showing the project area and providing the approximate acreage of the project area and acreage of coastal wetlands within the project area. Letters of Interest must be received by 5 PM PST on February 14th, 2018.

Eligible Applicants: Non-federal public agencies, tribes, and certain nonprofit organizations are eligible for funding. To be eligible, a nonprofit organization must qualify under the provisions of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and its articles of incorporation must demonstrate that the organization’s purposes are consistent with Division 21 of the Public Resources Code, the Coastal Conservancy’s enabling legislation.

Questions: Questions about the application process and potential projects may be directed to Joel Gerwein, External Grants Manager, 510-286-4170,

Start the New Year with a First Day Hike

First Day Hikes encourage people to start the new year in the great outdoors.  On January 1, get out for a walk to connect with nature, enjoy open spaces and get some fresh air.

In California, our magnificent coastline is a terrific public resource to explore on January 1 and everyday.  Whether you find a stretch of the California Coastal Trail to hike or just make the journey from the parking lot to the waves, we want all Californians to explore the coast.

Share a photo or a selfie of your First Day Hike with the hashtags #FirstDayHikes and #ExploreTheCoast to share your adventure!


The Coastal Conservancy California Coastal Trail page

California Coastal Trail information from CoastWalk, including trail maps

California Coastal Trail video segments

Coastal Commission YourCoast webapp

California State Parks First Day Hikes resources and events

First Day Hiking Tips from the American Hiking Society





Case Studies of Natural Shoreline Infrastructure in Coastal California

New Case Studies show potential of nature-based infrastructure to mitigate sea level rise.

Sea level rise and associated flooding will threaten nearly $100 billion worth of property along the California coast by 2100, and there is no question that coastal landowners and planners will act to protect their assets from these losses. In the absence of compelling reasons or guidance to do otherwise, they will overwhelmingly default to the industry standard – specifically, the construction of coastal armoring (seawalls, revetments, dikes, and levees).

Dunes at Surfers Point

One alternative to coastal armoring is natural infrastructure, which has been shown to be a cost-effective approach to mitigating risk of floods, storms and sea level rise in many places. Natural infrastructure enhances the ability of natural systems to respond to sea level rise and migrate landward, ensuring their survival. In turn, these systems provide co-benefits for coastal communities: coastal ecosystems can serve as protective buffers against sea level rise and storm events while continuing to provide access, recreation opportunities, and other social benefits.

In spite of the well-known advantages of natural infrastructure, property owners continue to default to coastal armoring to protect their assets. There are a number of obstacles in deploying natural infrastructure that result in this preference for coastal armoring, but among them is a documented lack of familiarity with what natural infrastructure is and how it works.

Ironically, California already has numerous examples of natural infrastructure at work! In order to fill this awareness gap, a team of experts from The Nature Conservancy, Point Blue Conservation Science, Environmental Science Associates, the State Coastal Conservancy, and the NOAA Sentinel Site Cooperative have released a report with detailed case studies of coastal natural infrastructure in action. These projects, ranging from sediment augmentation in Seal Beach to dune restoration in Humboldt, are designed to give coastal managers a sense of the breadth of approaches to coastal adaptation and what it takes to plan, permit, implement, and monitor them.

Five projects that spanned the California coast and represented different coastal settings and corresponding approaches were selected for the purposes of this report:

  • Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge Thin-layer Salt Marsh Sediment Augmentation Pilot Project
  • Surfers’ Point Managed Shoreline Retreat Project
  • San Francisco Bay Living Shorelines: Nearshore Linkages Project
  • Hamilton Wetland Restoration Project
  • Humboldt Coastal Dune Vulnerability and Adaptation Climate Ready Project

The case studies investigation was conducted as a component of “Identification of Natural Infrastructure Options for Adapting to Sea Level Rise,” a project under California’s Fourth Climate Assessment.

Read the full report: Case Studies of Natural Shoreline Infrastructure in Coastal California


A Coast For All of Us Webinar Recordings and Materials

As economic inequality grows in California, the beach is one space that is truly for everyone.  But are all Californians able to access the coast in the same way?

In the summer and early fall of 2017, the Coastal Conservancy held a 2-part webinar on coastal access in California. Below are the recordings and materials from both parts.

Webinar Recording: A Coast For All of Us


Presentation slides and supplemental reports

Adam Probolsky – Coastal Conservancy Statewide Survey // PART 1 | PART 2

Jon Christensen – Access for All: A New Generation’s Challenges on the California Coast // Presentation | Report

David Kordus – PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and the Environment


Upcoming Webinar: Designing Outdoor Environments that work for Everybody

Friday, May 4, 1:30-3 pm

Tim Gilbert, a landscape architect and access specialist with MIG, will provide information about designing outdoor environments that work for everybody. The Coastal Conservancy supports efforts by public agencies and nonprofits to increase access to natural areas.

Accessible trails are everyone’s trails

Join us to learn more about incorporating ADA into your planning processes for outdoor facilities and recreation, some information about the Americans with Disabilities Act, and specific design guidelines and standards for trails, trailheads, campsites, beach access, boating facilities, piers, docks, and more.

To attend the webinar, please register in advance at: 

SCC Public Comment on Dept. of Interior Review of National Monuments

The Department of the Interior is currently reviewing the status of 27 national monuments and has solicited public comments as part of this process.  The State Coastal Conservancy has issued the statement below, encouraging Secretary Zinke to leave these protected public lands intact.  Learn more about the review and leave a comment of your own here: 

Secretary Zinke,

On behalf of the California State Coastal Conservancy, the agency charged with protection and restoration of California’s coastline and coastal watersheds, I urge you to leave the 27 national monuments currently under review intact. These monuments are of great cultural and ecological significance, and they are public lands treasured by millions of Americans.

In California, the San Gabriel Mountains are vital to the quality of life of Los Angeles residents. These soaring mountains are a space to hike, play, ski and camp. They comprise 70% of the open space available to Angelenos and supply 30% of the city’s drinking water. They are also one of the only substantial natural spaces available to many of the urban, diverse and historically underserved communities in Los Angeles.

Berryessa Snow Mountain is the headwaters of the Eel River, California’s third largest river system, and an important salmon and steelhead trout watershed enjoyed by many for recreation and fishing.

America’s public lands are national treasure and should be protected as such. I ask that you consider the many benefits these monuments deliver to their local communities, to fragile ecosystems and to the fabric of our great country in your review.

Sam Schuchat
Executive Officer
California State Coastal Conservancy

News Release: Coast is personally important to 90% of all Californians; 70% wish they could go more often

New research commissioned by the California State Coastal Conservancy has found that 89.3% of all Californian adults agree that the coast is personally important to them, and 68.9% wish they could visit more often.

“This research shows us that Californians love the coast, regardless of where they live, how often they visit or who they are.” said Sam Schuchat, Executive Officer of the State Coastal Conservancy. “Over 20 million Californian adults go to the beach at least once a year.  Even though 30% of Californians haven’t been within the last year, the overwhelming majority of us still feel a personal connection to coast.  It also showed that over 94% of Californians agree that people of all backgrounds are welcome at the coast – the coast truly is for everyone.”

The study was a live-interviewer telephone survey conducted by Probolsky Research designed to give the Conservancy a detailed understanding of Californians’ relationships to the coast and the barriers that prevent more people from visiting.

“Our survey found that most people don’t get to the coast as often as they would like because they are too busy.” continued Schuchat. “Over 60% of respondents said that lack of time was a barrier to them visiting the coast more often. Traffic and transportation issues were the next most frequently stated barriers; 25% of people surveyed said it stopped them from visiting.  10% said financial concerns were the reason they didn’t go to the coast, and just over 5% said parking was too difficult or expensive.  Cost, however, is the top reason that people do not stay overnight at the coast with over 45% of respondents saying overnight accommodations are inconvenient or unaffordable.

“This new research reaffirms the importance of the coast to Californians, but also gives us new insight into some of the reasons people aren’t able to use our beaches and shorelines as much as they want to.  Historically, we have focused on solving problems in the last 100 feet of a trip to the coast – accessways, parking, shoreline restoration – this survey indicates that to get more Californians to our beaches, we also need to work towards making it quicker, easier and more convenient to get to and from the coast.  And we can do more to ensure Californians are familiar with the full breadth of coastal resources throughout the state and how to access them.  None of these issues exist in isolation, however, and we will continue our work to develop low cost accommodation, expand accessways and keep California’s coast safe, clean and healthy.”

The full research presentation can be found here

A fact sheet on the findings can be found here

California beach

Eel River Estuary and Centerville Slough Enhancement Project


The Conservancy at 40 Years: Marin County

MALT protected farm_MALT photoThe next time you are traveling around west Marin, imagine the expansive rolling hills covered with thousands of homes and highways instead of family farms.  That was the future for many of the ranches and farms of west Marin County if concerned citizens hadn’t banded together to protect Marin’s 150-year old farming heritage. Approximately 40 percent (120,000 acres) of Marin County is working ranch lands, including grazing for beef and dairy cattle, and small crop farms for produce, olives, and wine. Most of these ranches are owned and run by multi-generational family farmers.

In the late 1960s, Marin County had approved zoning and planning changes that would allow for a city with a population of 125,000 on the shores of Tomales Bay and multi-lane highways transecting the country side, creating a bedroom community for city commuters.  After years of opposition, the County rescinded its plan. But with the pressure remaining from outside interests to buy individual ranches for estate homes, and increasing economic pressures on ranch operations, many ranchers faced selling the family farm for top dollar. In response to the threat to a way of life, ranchers and environmentalists founded the Marin Agricultural Land Trust in 1980 to buy easements to provide economic boost for farms and protect them forever from development. MALT acquired its first easement in 1983 with funding from the Conservancy. Since then, MALT has acquired 76 easements and protected over 47,000 acres, and of that the Conservancy has granted nearly $12 million to MALT help acquire 22 easements and protect nearly 14,000 acres.

In addition to protecting ranches from development, the Conservancy has partnered with the Marin Resource Conservation District since 2000 to enhance aquatic, salmonid and riparian habitat on west Marin Ranches.  The Conservancy has funded projects to reduce erosion, restore riparian tree corridors, enhance fish habitat, and enhance grazing land on several Tomales Bay-draining ranches. In the face of prolonged droughts and increasing temperatures, the RCD is undertaking an innovative approach to improving water retention on ranches and permanently sequestering carbon in soils. In 2013, the Conservancy funded a pilot study and planning effort by RCD to create ‘Carbon Farming’ plans for Marin ranches. The plans outline ranch practices that will improve ranch productivity and sequester carbon in grasslands.

For more information about MALT:

For more information about Marin RCD and Carbon Farming:

Photos by MALT, Lech Naumovic, and the Marin RCD

MALT west Marin open space_Lech Naumovic Marin RCD Carbon Farming data collection_RCD photo


The Conservancy at 40 Years: Fort Bragg

fort bragg tour

How many stretches of the California Coastal Trail feature a dynamite shack?  Fort Bragg may have the only one in California! The innocuous looking concrete structure stands on the edge of the bluff in Noyo Headlands Park, the home of the city’s newly opened four mile Kah Kahleh trail, part of the Coastal Trail.  The shack once housed the explosives used to break up logjams on the Noyo, Ten Mile, and other rivers and ensure a steady flow of logs to the mill that was built here in 1857. As you stand on the edge of the bluff today, the waves crashing on the offshore rocks and the cries of the seagulls are the loudest sounds you’ll hear.  It’s hard to imagine the sights and sounds of the busy lumber mill that employed many of Fort Bragg’s residents until Georgia Pacific shut it down in 2002.

The mill’s closure was a challenge and an opportunity for the City, and it turned to the Coastal Conservancy to help plan for the future. A Conservancy planning grant helped the community look at the whole mill site, much of which will someday become residential and commercial areas.  Over 300 people participated in the planning process. One of the biggest ideas to emerge from the process, and the first one to become reality, was Noyo Headlands Park.  The Park is made up of about 100 acres of coastal prairie, beaches and bluff.  The community realized that the Park would be not just a tremendous amenity for City residents, but would also help Fort Bragg transition from a resource-based economy to one where tourism was much more important.  The park, and the coastal trail that runs through it, open miles of Fort Bragg’s coastline that had been closed to the public for more than a century.

The City acquired the parkland from Georgia Pacific in 2009 with the help of a $4.1 million grant from the Conservancy.  Detailed planning for the coastal trail followed soon after the acquisition, with more community participation.  Cleaning up hazardous waste left behind by the mill was one of the biggest challenges, and many options were considered, including using oyster mushrooms to break down dioxins left on the site.  Finally the parkland was clean, plans were in place, and permits were in hand.  With funding from the Conservancy, State Parks, and Caltrans, the City started construction on the trail in 2014.  Two years later, the 4.5 mile trail is complete and is already well used by people of all ages, from seniors in wheelchairs to little kids on scooters.  You can make your way down the cable steps to a little pocket beach, contemplate your mortality by the historic Fishermen’s Cemetery, climb to the top of Johnson Rock, and watch the water churn in Skip’s Punchbowl. Or just take a seat on one of the many artistic benches made by local artisans- I like the one shaped like a whale myself- and enjoy the view.

Morning to Glass Beach  GP bluff view    one-of-the-vista-points