WASHINGTON DC (November 10, 2022) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today joined public and private sector partners to announce nearly $91 million in grants through the new America the Beautiful Challenge ( ATBC). The 55 new grants announced today will support landscape-scale conservation projects in 42 states and three U.S. territories, leveraging $50.7 million in matching contributions to drive a total conservation impact of approximately 141 .7 million.
ATBC grants support projects that conserve, restore, and connect wildlife habitats while improving community resilience and access to nature. The America the Beautiful Challenge is a partnership between the NFWF and the U.S. Department of the Interior through the Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Forest Service , the U.S. Department of Defense and Native American Philanthropy.
The competitive scholarships were made possible through funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, other federal conservation programs, and private sources. This year, additional support was provided by the Bezos Earth Fund.
“Nature is essential to the health, well-being and prosperity of every family and every community in America,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “Through the America the Beautiful Challenge, we invest in projects that advance collaborative conservation using the best available science, innovative practices, and Indigenous knowledge to help conserve and protect our lands and waters. This work will create jobs, strengthen our economy, ensure fair access to the outdoors, and help fight the climate crisis.
To streamline and centralize access to these funds, NFWF and its partners worked together to establish ATBC in May 2022 as a competitive “one-stop-shop” grant program for conservation and restoration projects in the landscape scale that implement existing conservation plans across the country. The 2022 ATBC Request for Proposals received an unprecedented response, with applicants submitting 527 proposals requesting a total of $1.1 billion. The list of grants announced today meets approximately 10% of this overall level of demand, illustrating the highly competitive nature of ATBC.
“The inaugural year of the America the Beautiful Challenge shows what is possible when partners engage in a collaborative approach to provide resources to locally-led restoration efforts,” said Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director and CEO of NFWF. . “These grants will support voluntary, landscape-scale conservation efforts that will restore fish and wildlife habitats across the country and build a better future for us all.”
The grants announced today enable states, tribal nations, U.S. territories, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and other recipients to develop and implement high-priority, multijurisdictional restoration projects on public and private lands. The program aims to encourage the development and implementation of diverse and comprehensive landscape-scale projects that:
- Meeting priority conservation and restoration needs
- Show cumulative benefits to fish and wildlife
- Improve carbon sequestration and storage
- Engage with and benefit underserved communities
- Connecting people to nature
- Advance existing conservation plans and/or be informed by Aboriginal traditional knowledge
- Help protect ecosystems and communities through resilience-driven, nature-based solutions
“Restoring and maintaining 193 million acres of national forest and grassland and conserving hundreds of thousands of acres of farm and private land is too big a job for any one organization to do alone. “said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “That’s why we have a long history of working with a wide range of partners, and our co-stewardship agreements with tribal nations help bridge the gap between what we can accomplish on our own and the work we all know must be done together. These grants help make those connections possible.
Examples of the types of projects funded this year include:
- Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks ($4,330,000) will improve the resilience of 90,000 acres of fire-dependent habitats, including pine forests, black prairie and loess cliff ecosystems, through restoration, habitat management, control of invasive plant species, revegetation, cost sharing, awareness and training.
- Lake Superior Chippewa Fond du Lac Band ($219,000) will establish a Young Adult Indigenous Conservation Team (Team Maajii-akii-gikenjigewin) to support existing and future on-the-ground management plans on the Fond du Lac Reserve while providing participants with skills and experience for careers in the natural resources field.
- University of Montana ($674,000) will develop decision support tools to identify invasive treatment locations, facilitate monitoring of 1.2 million acres of scrub, grassland and woodland habitats, collaboratively prioritize areas and will fill Field Technician positions through a recruiting partnership with Little Big Horn College.
- Unlimited ducks ($348,000) will advance wetland habitat restoration on the ground, assist with project design, conduct outreach to new landowners, and provide technical engineering assistance to implement the program NRCS Working Lands for Wildlife Black Duck in Mid-Atlantic Target Wetlands.
“The 2022 America the Beautiful Challenge grants support the long-term sustainability and resilience of Department of Defense (DOD) missions in the Sentinel Landscapes of Georgia and Fort Huachuca and demonstrate the valuable collaboration between local, state and federal. DOD will continue to support activities through the streamlined America the Beautiful challenge to protect critical testing and training missions at facilities across the country, while protecting valuable habitats and accelerating national security strategies,” declared Mr. Paul Cramer, exercising the functions of the assistant secretary. of Defense for Energy, Installations and the Environment.
ATBC focuses on supporting tribal nations’ access to grants for restoration, conservation, and capacity building, and seeks projects that incorporate indigenous traditional knowledge into planning and implementation. The number of proposals received from Tribal Nation applicants in 2022 far exceeded expectations and demonstrated strong demand and a clear need for funding. Ultimately, approximately one-third of 2022 grants and funding will support projects implemented by tribal nations, representing an unprecedented level of funding dedicated to tribal-led projects for a unique grant program at NFWF. . This includes the Foundation’s largest-ever grant to a tribal nation.
“Many global philanthropic investments in Indigenous conservation efforts overlook US-based tribes. Despite underfunding, tribes consistently demonstrate that they are the best stewards of their lands and waterways, utilizing Indigenous ecological knowledge and their unique legal and political relationship with the U.S. government,” said Erik Stegman, CEO of Native Americans in Philanthropy.
ATBC consolidates funding from multiple federal agencies and the private sector, enabling applicants to develop and pursue large-scale or complex local projects that collaboratively address shared priorities on public and private lands. The program supports projects that contribute to one or more of the following focus areas:
- Conserve and restore rivers, coasts, wetlands and watersheds
- Conserve and restore forests, grasslands and other important ecosystems that serve as carbon sinks
- Connecting and reconnecting wildlife corridors, large landscapes, watersheds and seascapes
- Improve the resilience of ecosystems and communities to floods, droughts and other climate-related threats
- Expand access to the outdoors, especially in underserved communities
A full list of 2022 grants awarded by ATBC is available here. To learn more about the program, including applicant eligibility, funding priorities, and submission requirements, visit the NFWF ATBC webpage.
About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Established by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants, and habitats. Working with federal partners, corporations, foundations and individuals, the NFWF has funded more than 6,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $7.4 billion. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.
About the U.S. DoD REPI Program
The Department of Defense (DoD) Environmental Preparedness and Protection Integration (REPI) Program encourages multi-agency initiatives and collaboration to preserve compatible land uses and promote resilience around facilities and military firing ranges. These efforts preserve and enhance Department of Defense (DoD) assets and capabilities in support of military readiness through the creation of unique cost-sharing partnerships with state and local governments and private conservation organizations. The REPI program is administered by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Learn more at www.repi.mil.
About Native Americans in Philanthropy
For more than thirty years, Native Americans in Philanthropy has promoted equitable and effective philanthropy in Indigenous communities. They do this through leadership development, education, research, and strategic partnerships with funders and philanthropic organizations. The cornerstone of their work is their loved ones and their networks. NAP supports multiple communities of stakeholders working together to build knowledge, community, focus and power in the sector. These networks include Indigenous philanthropy professionals, elected tribal chiefs, Indigenous youth leaders, Indigenous philanthropic leaders and board members, and Indigenous non-profit leaders.
Rob Blumenthal, 202-857-0166, [email protected]