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Watershed Fund Capacity Support


The Watershed Fund has funding to assist our community-based watershed conservation partners with building capacity in organizational development, sustainability, coordination, planning, communications, and outreach.

MWCC defines capacity as the tools, knowledge, and resources our partners need to effectively and sustainably carry out their core missions over the long term. Capacity needs are different for each organization. They may include effective leadership, engaged and well-trained staff, relevant skills and knowledge to carry out project work, strategic relationships, secure funding sources, and more.

2022 Capacity Support Timeline

  • June or July 2021 (TBD): Announcement of funding opportunity
  • Approx. 1 month after announcement: Proposals due
  • Approx. 1 month after proposals due: Funding decisions made

2021 Capacity Support Funding

OrganizationProject Title
Beaverhead Watershed CommitteeBuilding Organizational Structural Integrity (BOSI)
Bitter Root Water ForumCapitalizing on Momentum: Strategic Planning + Connecting With Streamside Landowners
Lake Helena Watershed GroupBuilding Foundation for the Lake Helena Watershed Group
Lolo Watershed GroupEstablishing Lolo Watershed Group as the Local Leader in Protecting and Restoring Lolo Creek and its Watershed
Lower Clark Fork Watershed GroupPrivate Landowner Engagement & Project Development
Musselshell Watershed Coalition Musselshell Watershed Coalition Strategic Plan
Sun River Watershed GroupBuilding Capacity for Organizational Resilience
The Watershed Education NetworkCommunity Engagement in the Rattlesnake Creek Watershed

2020 Capacity Support Funding

Organization Project Title
Big Hole Watershed CommitteeUpland and Forest Health Restoration Program Development
Bitter Root Water ForumImproved Sustainability and Increased Impact Through Staffing Communications + True Program Costs
Blackfoot ChallengePrescribed Fire Foundations Project - Opportunity
Gallatin Watershed CouncilOrganizational Re-Branding
Kootenai River NetworkKRN Website Modernization and Transboundary Education Project
Musselshell Watershed CoalitionEstablishing a Cooperative Weed Management Area
Sun River Watershed GroupOrganizational Capacity and Improved Outreach

The purpose of these dollars is to fill critical capacity funding gaps of our local partner organizations. Activities funded will allow watershed organizations to measurably improve their internal operations and external community-based conservation efforts, through targeted efforts in organizational development and sustainability, coordination, planning, communications, and outreach. Projects must be directly related to community-led solutions and engagement using the Watershed Approach to conservation.Purpose

Who Qualifies for Support?

MWCC partner organizations who are increasing the capacity of local communities to advance community-based, locally led conservation using the Watershed Approach to conservation are eligible. This includes watershed groups; conservation, irrigation, and water quality districts; non-profits; forest collaboratives; tribal communities; and tribal government agencies. Federal agencies, state agencies, individuals, and for-profit entities are not eligible.

What is Required of Partners Who Receive Funding?

Partners who receive funding report to MWCC on both qualitative and quantitative outcomes, impacts, and deliverables, and provide other information as needed.

Project proposals must be submitted via an online proposal form provided by MWCC for each funding cycle.

Examples of Eligible Projects:

The following are merely examples. MWCC encourages and supports innovative capacity-building ideas that will bring our Watershed Partners to the next level in terms of organizational capacity, sustainability, or scaling up of watershed efforts. Please contact Watershed Programs Coordinator Terri Nichols,, to discuss your proposal ideas.

  • Community- and landowner-engagement efforts, including project tours, community meetings, and other initiatives
  • Evaluation of organizational goals and budgetary needs, including determining true program costs and billing rates
  • Monitoring and evaluating organizational effectiveness
  • Establishing and implementing a communications plan for your organization
  • Conducting a community-led watershed needs prioritization effort in conjunction with key state and federal partners.
  • Creating and implementing a community engagement plan
  • Establishing partnerships with other local organizations to achieve larger conservation goals
  • Outreach activities to private landowners
  • Establishment of or measurable progress toward community-led:
    • Watershed Restoration Plans
    • Drought management plans
    • Weed management plans
    • Climate resiliency plans
    • Education or outreach initiatives
    • Other conservation planning initiatives
  • Establishing a monitoring program

Examples of Ineligible Projects

  • Implementation of on-the-ground restoration or other projects
  • Implementation of conservation practices
  • Political lobbying or litigation
  • Purchase of equipment that is not directly related to a capacity-building project or that exceeds 20% of the project budget.

Review Criteria

Priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate a meaningful step in improving organizational capacity, sustainability, or scaling up of watershed efforts. What constitutes a “meaningful step” will be different for each organization and will vary by organizational life stages.

Review criteria include:

  • Project goals reflect a meaningful step in improving organizational capacity, sustainability, or scaling up of watershed efforts.
  • Application clearly demonstrates why the project is necessary for sustaining or improving the health of the local watershed.
  • Project implements the following principles of the Watershed Approach:
    1. Is community-based and community-driven
    2. Ensures broad stakeholder involvement and inclusivity
    3. Relies on local leadership
    4. Encourages collaboration with partners in the watershed
  • Project relates to an existing conservation or watershed plan, such as Watershed Restoration Plans, NRCS Long Range Plans or Technical Implementation Plans, regional Water Plans, local water quality plans, or other community-based conservation plans.
  • Project demonstrates clear positive impacts within the organization and/or community, both in the near and longer terms.
  • Project timeline is realistic and can be completed within the time allowed by the grant.
  • Project budget is clear and understandable in the context of the proposed project.
  • There is a clear need for funding from the Watershed Fund.

Timeline for 2021 Funding

  • June 10, 2021: Announcement of funding opportunity
  • July 8, 2021: Proposals due
  • August 2021: Funding decisions made

How to Apply for 2021 Funding

Applicants must apply using the online form in Submittable that MWCC will provide with the announcement of funding.

Here’s a quick video for Getting Started as a Submitter in Submittable.

2021 Capacity Support Timeline

• June 10, 2021: Announcement of funding opportunity
• July 8, 2021: Proposals due
• August 16, 2021: Funding decisions made


Please contact Watershed Programs Coordinator Terri Nichols with any questions, and to discuss your funding ideas.

Terri Nichols