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Stewardship Grants

Icon_alert_black.png  Due to popularity of the grant program, we have stopped accepting new applications until further notice.

After review of already submitted applications and assessment of budget, we'll determine if we can resume applications or close for the season. Site visits requests remain open to discuss potential project ideas.

Click here to join the waiting list to apply if funds become available.

Funding and technical advice 

For projects that protect and improve water resources

The Watershed Stewardship Grant program offers financial support and resources for clean water projects to residents and organizations in the watershed district. Some examples include habitat restorations, shoreline restorations, waterbody buffers, raingardens, and tree trenches.


Grant funds work like a rebate. If your project application is awarded a grant, you'll be reimbursed for the cost after your completed project has been inspected.

All grant agreements come with percent (%) cost share award with a not-to-exceed amount ($), so it's important that your estimate be as accurate as possible.

Contact the Grant Coordinator

Eleanor Mahon
(952) 687-1348

Overview of process

Before submitting an application, you need to request and complete a site visit. A representative of RPBCWD will meet you at the potential project site to discuss your idea, offer advice, and answer questions.

After the site visit, you may submit a grant application. The grant process from application, project installation, and reimbursement is detailed in the task timeline. The timeline highlights what actions are to be taken by the applicant/grantee (that's you!) and District staff.

The three main parts to the grant process are:

  • Part 1: Application
  • Part 2: Build your project
  • Part 3: Reimbursement

After your project is complete, you are required to maintain that project for 5 years if you are a homeowner and 10 years for other applicant categories. We will ask for annual reports depending on the type of project.

Are you in the District? Enter the potential project address to make sure it's located within the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District:


What Projects Qualify for a Grant?

There are seven general categories for types of projects that qualify for a Stewardship Grant. Click below to learn more.


Native Plant Requirements

Some types of projects have native plant requirements including ecologically friendly maintenance.


Ecologically friendly maintenance

We love native plants for their water quality protection and habitat benefits! Maximize these benefits by practicing ecologically friendly maintenance.


Application Forms

There are three application forms. One application for a Native Planting, one for a Rain Barrel, and one for all other eligible projects types. You must have a site visit before you submit an application!

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Projects eligible for a grant include:

  1. Native Planting - Add native plants or seeds to existing landscape or to enhance a natural landscape
  2. Habitat Restoration - Restore developed space back into native habitat
  3. Lake Shoreline Restoration - Restore a shoreline with native plants or other bioengineering techniques
  4. Waterbody Buffer Strip - Add a strip of native vegetation to help protect a waterbody such as a a lake, pond, or creek
  5. Lawn Alternative - Convert a standard resource-intense lawn into a meadow lawn or bee lawn
  6. Stormwater Best Management Practice (BMP) - Build a rain garden, tree trench, vegetated swale, or other feature that properly manages stormwater
  7. Rain Barrel (homeowners only) - Add a rain barrel to capture roof runoff

Each type of project has requirements in order to qualify. Learn more about project requirements.

All projects must occur within the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District. Check to see if your property is located in the District.

Applicants must be the property owner or authorized representative. Eligible applicant categories include:

  • Individual homeowners
  • Non-profits (including home, townhome and lake associations)
  • Schools
  • Businesses
  • Local government ​​​

The maximum award depends upon the applicant category and type of project. The grant review committee evaluates applications for their level of benefit to water resources. The award percentage for eligible projects may range from 25% to 75%.


Learn more about awards for each type of project.


Overview of maximum grant awards

Applicant Category

Cost share percentage

Cost share
maximum award value

Maximum total cost share award (or reimbursement) per calendar year


Up to 75%
of project cost

$1,500 to $5,000
(depends on project type)

[Rain barrel: $100 maximum]


property owner

Up to 75%
of project cost

$10,000 to $20,000
(depends on project type)


school, business

Up to 75%
of project cost

$10,000 to $50,000
(depends on project type)



Yearly Maximum per applicant

An individual or organization may apply for more than one Stewardship Grant per year. However, in addition to a project type maximum, there is a yearly maximum that an individual or organization may be awarded in a calendar year, regardless of the number of projects or project categories they apply for.

  • A homeowner will not be awarded (or reimbursed) more than $5,000 in cost share funds per calendar year.
  • A non-profit will not be awarded (or reimbursed) more than $20,000 in cost share funds per calendar year.
  • A municipality, school, or business will not be awarded (or reimbursed) more than $50,000 in cost share funds per calendar year.


YES for some applicant types and projects types. You MUST include the in-kind estimate as part of your project cost estimate when you apply for a grant!




Individual homeowner

Non-profit organization

Government, school, business

Native Plants




Habitat Restoration




Lake Shoreline Restoration




Waterbody Buffer




Stormwater BMP




Alternative Lawn




Rain Barrel


Ineligible for project type

Ineligible for project type


If you plan on installing the project yourself and you qualify for in-kind labor as a project cost, include your in-kind labor (estimated number of hours) in your estimated project cost when you submit an application. If you hire a professional but still do some of the project installation yourself, you can also include in-kind labor in your cost estimate.

We willl credit $15/hour for your in-kind labor (also known as sweat equity) to install the project. To take advantage of this, you must plan ahead and include an estimate of the number of hours you (and/or your household members) would need to install the project as part of your cost estimate in your application.

Requirements for getting in-kind labor credit:

  • Eligible project types includes a habitat restoration, shoreline restoraiton, waterbody buffer, alternative lawn, and stormwater BMP. The native planting grant and rain barrel grant are not eligible for in-kind labor.
  • In-kind labor credit is only for manual labor of installing a project by you or someone from your household or non-profit organization.
  • Time used for shopping (in person or online) does not count as in-kind labor.
  • When we review your application, we will determine if the estimated hours of labor is reasonable.
  • Your in-kind labor credit is toward your share of out-of-pocket cost. If your credit is larger than this cost, we will not reimburse you for the difference.
  • In-kind labor does not apply for staff of municipalities, schools, or businesses.

Take a look at the example below to see how including a reasonable estimate of in-kind labor can reduce your final out-of-pocket cost.

EXAMPLE You did include in-kind labor in project estimate You did NOT include in-kind labor in project estimate
Project cost: Materials $1,500 $1,500
Project cost: Labor credit $300 (20 hours x $15/hr) $0
Total Project Cost $1,800 $1,500
Cost share award by percent 75% 75%
Cost share award in dollars $1,350 $1,125
Your share by percent 25% 25%
Your share in dollars $450 $375
Labor credit (from above) $300 $0
Final out-of-pocket cost $150 $375


Every cost share (grant) agreement comes with a percent cost share with a not-to-exceed amount. This not-to-exceed amount is the maximum that a grantee will be reimbursed, regardless of the project's final cost.

A grantee can choose to pay the extra themselves or talk to the grant coordinator about how project costs may be reduced and still achieve project goals (this may not always be possible). We strongly encourage applicants to have a solid cost estimate in their application to reduce the risk of their project going over budget.

Work that goes above and beyond permit requirements or the cost difference of a BMP upgrade is eligible for grant funds. You can also receive grant funds for ancillary work, performed under the same project, that is not subject to district rules.

Shoreline restoration projects are an exception to the above. Grant funds may be used for bioengineered compoments (native plants, bio-log, etc.) of a shoreline restoration even if installing the components requires a permit.

Learn more about District Permits.

Projects that involve establishing native vegetation (habitat restoration, natural shoreline restoration, waterbody buffer) may be awarded three years of professional maintenance as part of the grant agreement. These funds are reimbursed once per year following the end of the maintenance season (typically end of the calendar year). 

To receive reimbursement, a grantee must submit a receipt and a description of work completed to the grant program coordinator. The description of work should be provided by the professional hired to do the work; they may place this information on the invoice, on a separate note, or by email.

Residential projects must be maintained by the grantee for 5 years following installation of the project. If a grantee sells their home before the end of the 5-year maintenance period, the cost share (grant) agreement does not transfer to the new homeowner. If you're thinking about applying for a Stewardship Grant and are also thinking about selling your home within a few years, reach out to the grant coordinator before you apply for a grant. Depending on the type of project, it may not be in the watershed district's best interest to offer cost share funds for a project if the maintenance requirement is voided because of a property sale.

Buckthorn removal is not covered in the grant program. However, you may use grant funds to purchase native plants or native seeds to enhance a wooded area that is undergoing or has already undergone buckthorn removal.

The Habitat Restoration grant is intended to restore developed or highly degraded sites back to natural habitat. Examples of developed sites include lawn/turfgrass, hard surfaces such as pavement/asphalt (patios, driveways, parking lots, etc.), or other site that is impervious, has low-permeability, or produces signficant stormwater runoff. Some highly degraded natural areas (with or without buckthorn) with conditions such as severe erosion may qualify as habitat restoration.

The Process in Detail

  1. Read the program policies.
  2. Fill out/submit the request a site visit form.
  3. We will notify you by email about a site visit day/time within 7 business days. [IMPORTANT: Sometimes this email gets caught in spam/junk folders. Check these folders in your email account or add the grant coordinator to your email contacts.]
  4. Design your project. You can design the project yourself based on recommendations from the technician, or you hire a private company/contractor to design the project. If you work with a private company (or design it yourself), we encourage you to submit the plan to technician for preliminary review. Make sure you are meeting requirements for your project type.
  1. Before you submit the application, make sure you will meet the requirements for your type of project.
  2. If you plan build/install the project yourself, estimate the number of hours you will need. You may be able to count in-kind labor toward your share of project cost.
  3. Gather all of the necessary information needed BEFORE submitting an application. The more detailed information you provide, the less likely we'll have to go back-and-forth to ask for more information.
  4. Information/materials you will need to provide for all projects:
  • Photos: Provide two or more photos of project area as it looks now (before project installation).
  • Cost estimate: If you plan to do the project yourself, you'll need to submit an itemized cost estimate. If you plan to hire a company/contractor to do part or all of the project work, please provide a detailed quote or bid from that company. Download this Grant Project Estimator (this is an Excel file you can open in Microsoft Excel or open in Google Sheets through your free Google/Gmail account) to help you estimate costs.
  1. Once you have gathered all information and materials, fill out and submit the online grant application form. Be prepared to complete this step all at once as your form responses may not be saved on your local device.  Tip: Use a word processing program (e.g. Word) to put together your application responses in advance, then copy and paste these into the form.  

If you've reached the maximum file upload in the application form, you can email additional files to the grant program coordinator.

  1. We will send you a grant agreement. Once this is signed, you can get started!
  2. Keep track of your expenses including all receipts.
  3. Issues come up. If you think you need to make a change to your plan, contact us for approval
  4. Take lots of photos! Before, during, and after. You’ll need photos to submit in your project report.
  5. You’ve got ONE YEAR (12 months) to complete your project once grant has been approved.
  1. Submit a project report to the grant coordinator. Your report must include:
    • Total project cost
    • Copies of receipts that show vendor information, date of purchase, and item name/cost (invoices must be marked as "paid in full" or have proof of payment to be considered a receipt). If your receipt includes items not used for the project (e.g. candy bar), please draw a line through these on the receipt or communicate these items to the grant coordinator.
    • List of in-kind contributions (e.g. personal labor hours) but only if an in-kind contribution credit was part of your application/grant agreement
    • Photographs of completed project
    • Short written description about project (how did it go, what did you learn, how do you plan to maintain the project site, etc.)
  2. Request a project inspection by emailing or calling the grant coordinator. If you submit your project report and haven't scheduled the project inspection, we will reach out to you. *Timing: you may schedule the inspection as soon as the project is nearing completion.
  3. Once your project has passed the inspection, the grant coordinator will submit a payment request to the District administrator for approval. Once approved, the reimbursement will have to be approved at the monthly board meeting. After the board meeting, payment will be in the form of a check mailed to your address (see timing info below).

When will I receive my grant reimbursement payment? That depends on when you submit your project report. If you submit all required information (including receipts) and there's enough time to perform a close-out site visit by the 15th of the month, then your reimbursement is likely to be mailed to you during the first full week of the following month.  If your report and close-out site visit occur after the 15th of the month, then your reimbursement would likely be pushed back to the next District finance cycle (month after next).

  1. Take care of your project. Depending on the type of project/location, you are required to to maintain your project for 5 years or 10 years (see program guidelines for full details).
  2.  Complete an online project report each year to let us know how things are going. Please do this annually for 5 to 10 years (depending on what's stated in your grant agreement).
  3. At the end of year two, the CCSWCD technician will stop out for a progress visit.
  4. Stay in contact! The watershed district often offers continuing education on topics such as maintenance plus other opportunities to learn and get involved.

Before submitting a grant application, you must first request a site visit with a District representative. Site visits are scheduled on weekdays during business hours and subject to staff availability. The site visit allows evaluation and discussion with the property owner about the potential project idea.

After completion of the site visit , you may submit a grant application. The application is first reviewed by the grant program coordinator to determine if the application contains sufficient information. If the application is complete, it will be forwarded to the grant review committee, which meets about once a month to evaluate and make decisions on applications. Decisions may include a request for more information, adjustments to project design, denial of a grant award, or offer of a grant award.

Typical grant award offers range from 25% to 75% of project cost. Projects with a greater water quality benefit tend to score higher than those with a smaller water quality benefit. If a grant award is offered, the applicant must review and sign the grant agreement. Non-profits and businesses will also have to sign and file a maintenance declaration with their county recorder office. Once approved by the District Administrator (in some cases the Board of Managers must also approve), the project may begin.

The grantee pays for all project costs up front. Once the project is complete or near complete, the grantee will need to schedule a project inspection. The grantee must also submit a project report including receipts and photos. After inspection and report submisstion, the grant coordinator will submit paperwork for the grant reimbursement. The actual grant payment (in the form of a check) will mailed to the grantee following the next available Board of Managers meeting.

Take the Next Step


Request a site visit

The first step in the grant process is to request a site visit for a consultation. All requests will be held for scheduling until March 2024.

Request a site visit

Submit a grant application

** We have paused applications pending review of remaining budget. ** There are three different applications: One for a native planting, one for a rain barrel, and one for all other project types.

Submit an application

Submit a project report

Is your project complete? You'll need to submit a report to begin the project close-out review process.

Submit your report

Annual reporting - long-term

Depending on the type of project/location, you are required to to maintain your project for 5 years or 10 years.

Complete annual report

landscape.png  Professional Maintenance Support

Were you awarded professional maintenance support for the first 3 years after project installation?

Learn how to request a reimbursement.


Applications are typically accepted on a rolling basis from late winter/early spring through October or until funds are committed.


Contact the grant coordinator:

Eleanor Mahon

More grant money may be available!

Your city, county, lake owners association, or other local organization may also offer grant funds to help protect water quality and other natural resources. You can pair another grant award with the RPBCWD Stewardship Grant as long as you don't double dip (get paid twice for same thing).

CarverSWCD.jpegThe District appreciates its partnership with Carver Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in their assistance with site visits and project inspections for this grant program.

Tools and Resources

Native Plants and Related Topics

Want to learn more about native plants? Looking for resources to help you plan a project? Trying to decide which native plants would work best in your space?

Visit the Native Plant Resources page.

What you'll find:

  • Recommended native plants for suburban yards
  • Ecologically friendly maintenance
  • Native plant encyclopedia
  • A list of community native plant markets
  • Recommendation for establishing a native planting

Project Planning Tools

Project estimate templates

Native plant list requirements and example

Other tools

Property Maps

Looking at maps is fun! Enter your address in the appropriate county online map. You'll be able to bring up aerial photos of your property, look up your Property Identification (PID) number, and play around with measuring and drawing tools to plan your Stewardship Project.

You can export maps you've created (look for "print" which exports map as a PDF or other format) or take screen shots to save your work.

Hennepin County online property map with natural resources info

Click "Map layers" and select "Hybrid" to add an aerial basemap; add topographic/contour lines by selecting "2 Foot Elevation Contours"

View map

Hennepin County online property map

Basic property map that does not include contour lines

View map

Carver County online property map

Click "Basemap" to see aerial basemap options; click "Theme" to turn on contours lines and other features

View map