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SWCD Watershed Program Grants

Helbender Preserve Area Photo

Hellbender Preserve Area, Jefferson County, Ohio

This program is not currently accepting applications

Program Background

The Division of Soil and Water Conservation (DSWC) initiated the first grants to support local watershed management personnel after the successful multi-agency legislative proposal, "A Proposed Action Agenda for Ohio Watersheds." Adopted with the Ohio Fiscal Year 2000-2001 Biennial Operating Budget, $300,000 was allocated to DSWC annually for the program. Additional funding was provided to Ohio State University (OSU) Extension to develop the Ohio Watershed Network, and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) to enhance assessment and monitoring of watersheds.

Brochure Title, A Proposed Action Agenda for Ohio Watersheds

Funding was also initially provided from the Clean Water Act, Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program, administered by Ohio EPA; and from several Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) divisions including: Mineral Resources Management, Wildlife, and Office of Coastal Management.


Over 50 grants have been awarded since 2001. Roughly half of the positions established as a result of the grants have continued to be supported by sponsor organizations long after grant closure, thereby establishing a professional infrastructure for watershed management in Ohio.

Map of Ohio Watersheds with Grant-funded Coordinators 2001-2015

Other outcomes:

  • 64 state endorsed watershed action plans;
  • $114 million in grants and other funding secured by watershed coordinators to focus on watershed implementation;
  • Dozens of water resource professionals now employed by various local, state, federal, academic and private institutions throughout Ohio trained and experienced in comprehensive, collaborative, science-based water resource problem solving;
  • Establishment of several regional watershed organizations within Ohio to promote networking and information sharing among and between watershed professionals including:
  • Scores of successful projects on the landscape improving water quality and building the knowledge of land managers and decision makers;
  • Measurable water quality improvements in many watersheds, including the highly successful Raccoon Creek watershed restoration. This watershed was severely degraded by acid mine drainage and supported very little life. Now because of the efforts of watershed coordinators and many partners working over a 15-year period, 115 miles of the creek are meeting the pH target of 6.5, and 42 miles of Raccoon Creek have improved enough to meet Ohio EPA water quality standards for aquatic life use. More data about Ohio's Appalachian watershed success stories may be found at www.watersheddata.com