Improve Your Grant Writing Skills

On September 15, 2016, the Conservancy held a webinar for 150 people on how to Improve Your Grant Writing Skills. The training covered the following topics:

  • Reviewing Grant Proposals – A funder’s perspective
  • Grant Solicitations – Key strategies for success. How do you decide if a potential grant program is a good fit for your project or worth your time to apply for? Is this the right time to apply for the particular funding source? How do you position yourself for success?
  • Describing Your Project – Being able to describe your project clearly and concisely yet also with sufficient detail is critical to successful grant writing. We will go over key elements and common pitfalls to help you hone your grant writing skills.
  • Grant Questions and Scoring Criteria – We will discuss strategies for addressing grant questions and the challenges they pose such as repetitive questions, questions that don’t address core pieces of your project, questions that don’t match with the scoring criteria, unclear questions, and other challenges for grant writers.
  • Budgets – The ins and outs of how to present your project’s budget. Ultimately it all comes down to money, so a well developed budget is very important.
  • No brainer checklist – Our list of things you absolutely must do with every grant application.

View the Webinar

Download presentation and notes in pdf

California Sea Otter Fund: Grant Applications Due September 9, 2016

California Sea Otter in Elkhorn Slough

Photo: Teddy Llovet

The State Coastal Conservancy is now accepting applications for its 2017 Sea Otter Recovery Grants. The grants will be funded with monies from the California Sea Otter Fund, which is one of the state’s voluntary tax check-off funds that allows taxpayers to contribute additional money for use towards the recovery of California sea otter populations.

Public agencies and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for the grants (see Proposal Solicitation for details). Eligible projects include research, science, protection projects or programs related to the Federal Sea Otter Recovery Plan or improving the nearshore ocean ecosystem, including, but not limited to, program activities to reduce sea otter mortality. Each year, the Conservancy solicits proposals for the annual appropriation from the fund. This year the Conservancy has approximately $118,000 available for projects that meet the fund’s objectives. Applications can be submitted at any time, but to ensure consideration for this year’s funding, applications must be received by close of business September 9, 2016.

For more information, please refer to the Proposal Solicitation and the Conservancy’s Grant Application. Applications can be submitted by email; no hard copies are required.

For more information, please contact Trish Chapman, Central Coast Program Manager, at

The Conservancy at 40: Hearst Ranch

02 zebras on Hearst Ranch

If you hike, bike or drive along the California coast you can see all kinds of wildlife: Elk? Check. Elephant seals? Check. Zebras? What? If you sight a zebra along the San Luis Obispo coast, you will know that you are gazing at a part of the Hearst Ranch, and one of the most ambitious conservation projects ever completed in California.

Hearst Ranch covered approximately 82,000 acres and included 18 miles of rocky shoreline punctuated with sandy beaches and coves. East of Highway 1, gently rolling hills become progressively steeper and more rugged as they approach the ridgeline of the coastal mountain range. Seven major creeks within the ranch flow from the mountains and support the riparian plants and wildlife typically associated with central coast creek systems, and there are rare plant species on the property that are found nowhere else in the world.

01 SLO 1 Hearst San Simeon SP_sceascape1

Over the years, a variety of development proposals had been pursued for the property, including a 1980 proposal for two 18-hole golf courses and numerous resorts. Citizen opposition to these large development schemes was strong. In 1998, 1,000 people attended a meeting of the California Coastal Commission to oppose a development plan supported by Hearst and the County.

Finally, after thousands of hours of negotiations, the State of California reached agreement on a deal. In 2005, Hearst transferred about 1,500 acres on the coastal side of the highway to California State Parks and Caltrans, while the Coastal Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Board funded the acquisition of an 80,000-acre conservation easement to protect habitat, preserve views, and limit development on the east side of the ranch. The easement is now held and monitored by the California Rangeland Trust. The Coastal Conservancy contributed $34.5 million to this landmark deal which cost a total of $95 million.

Since the acquisition, State Parks has been working on plans to develop 18 miles of the Coastal Trail, as well as a new campground on the coast at Piedras Blancas, right in the middle of Hearst San Simeon State Park. As part of the Coastal Conservancy’s efforts to provide lower cost overnight accommodations on the coast, staff has been assisting State Parks to design and permit the campground which will give campers the perfect opportunity to view the ever-funny elephant seals at the nearby Piedras Blancas overlook. Both the campground plans and the elephant seal overlook were funded in part by the Coastal Conservancy. And the zebras? Still there.
Elephant seal and large bird on the beach

The Conservancy at 40: The Carmel River

Carmel River Lagoon WetlandsThe demolition of San Clemente Dam continues in Carmel Valley, Calif. on August 3, 2015. Carmel Valley is a city in Monterey County, California.
In 1999 the Carmel River was listed as one of North American’s ten most endangered rivers, but many organizations and individuals have been working together to reverse this and make the Carmel River watershed once again healthy and vibrant. Over the years, a concentration of conservation efforts has begun the transformation; this has included land acquisitions, river restoration, and the initiation of a river parkway that will eventually provide a connection for people between the coast and the river’s headwaters in the Los Padres National Forest.

One of the Conservancy’s proudest accomplishments has been the removal of San Clemente Dam, the largest dam removal in California to date. This innovative project restored fish passage to 25 miles of high quality spawning and rearing habitat and allows sediment to once again travel down the river to replenish the sand at Carmel River State Beach. Removal of the seismically unsafe dam also protected downstream residential and commercial properties. The 920-acre project site will be donated to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and opened to the public for hiking and other recreation.

In 2004, The Nature Conservancy and Big Sur Land Trust (BSLT) led the effort to acquire the 10,000-acre Palo Corona Ranch, which linked together more than ten conserved properties. The Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District, Wildlife Conservation Board, and California State Parks joined with the Conservancy to provide the $37 million needed to acquire the property. This property dominates the landscape along the lower river and forms the gateway to the Big Sur coast.

Currently the Conservancy is supporting the County of Monterey and BSLT on implementation of the Carmel River FREE (Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement) project, which will restore habitat along the lower river while also dramatically reducing flooding impacts to the local community.

We look forward to the day when the Carmel River is deemed one of the ten most restored rivers in the country!

The Conservancy at 40: San Mateo County Coast

Pedro Point to south

View from Pedro Point to Devils Slide (Photo by Paul Donahue)

The San Mateo County Coast is only minutes from one of the largest metropolitan areas in the state, and people making the short drive from San Francisco or San Jose are always surprised by how, all of a sudden, there’s so much green space on the coast! The open rolling hills look effortlessly “natural,” but decades of work and hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into protecting them.

In 1972, San Mateo County voters passed Measure R, creating the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Midpen) to “acquire and preserve a regional greenbelt of open space land in perpetuity, protect and restore the natural environment, and provide opportunities for ecologically sensitive public enjoyment and education.” Five years later, Midpen’s director identified the need for a nonprofit partner that could better work with local landowners and the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) was born.

Peregrine at Devils Slide (Photo by P Kobernus)

Peregrine at Devils Slide (Photo by P Kobernus)

Together with POST, Midpen, the County of San Mateo, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and others, the Conservancy has been part of a decades-long effort to preserve the farms, forests, creeks, vistas, and beaches of coastal San Mateo County. Over the Coastal Conservancy’s 40 years, we’ve invested more than $43 million to help purchase and protect more than 20 parcels along the San Mateo coast, ranging from small stretches of coastal bluffs at Pillar Point to the 4,262-acre Rancho Corral de Tierra, connecting Half Moon Bay to Montara. We’ve partnered with POST to save important coastal farms including the Bolsa Point Ranches, Cowell Ranch, Purisima Farms and San Gregorio Ranch.

TPL and the Conservancy worked together with the Pacifica Land Trust and the City of Pacifica to protect the 246-acre Pedro Point Headlands, with miles of dramatic trails that seem like a private preserve but which are, indeed, public. From the peaks of the property, you can view the entire Gulf of the Farralones from Point Reyes to the Farralon Islands. Pedro Point now forms the gateway to the Devils Slide Coast, an 8,900-acre network of publicly accessible lands located between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay. With the highway now safely tucked away under new tunnels, the Devil’s Slide segment of the CCT is an exhilarating mile of paved trail is accessible to everyone who is not in a car – from wheelchair-riders to horseback riders. They can thank San Mateo County Parks for operating the trail (and the Coastal Conservancy for funding the restrooms at either end of the trail!). Caltrans, the Coastal Commission, and especially the community’s “Tunnelistas” deserve many rounds of applause for creating this magnificent trail. The Devils Slide Coastal Trail opened in 2014 and attracts hundreds of visitors every day.

Devil's Slide sign

Wavecrest (Photo by Karl Kroeber)

Wavecrest (Photo by Karl Kroeber)

Using Simplified Permits to Accelerate Your Restoration Project

Carmel River Lagoon WetlandsThe Coastal Conservancy hosted a webinar with Sustainable Conservation on March 28, 2016, to provide information on using programmatic permits and authorizations for voluntary restoration and water quality projects to accelerate this environmentally beneficial work. Use of these “simplified” permits can help project proponents and agencies save time and money so greater resources can be put towards on-the-ground project implementation. Sustainable Conservation reviewed the current simplified permits that are available now to help move restoration and water quality improvement projects forward.

Here are links to key resources from the training:

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