The Conservation Contracts Program Replaces the Erosion Control and Water Management Program effective FY24.
Posted: August 24, 2023
What's Different for SWCDs?
The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) adopted the Conservation Contracts Program Policy on August 24, 2023, which will be in effect for the FY24 Conservation Contracts Program grants. The new Conservation Contracts Program is a result of recent amendments to Minnesota Statutes, section 103C.501 and replaces the Erosion Control and Water Management Program. The revised statute and new policy empower Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) to make local program decisions through increased flexibility and reduced administration. See below for more information on what’s different for SWCDs.
- Eligible activities are expanded, with fewer ineligible activities. SWCDs will decide how to use funds for erosion and sedimentation control, improvements to water quality or water quantity, habitat enhancement, plant biodiversity, energy conservation, or climate adaptation, resiliency, or mitigation based on plan(s), ability to leverage funds, and other high-priority needs based on public input.
- Technical Assistance is no longer limited to 20% of the grant amount. There was previously an exemption to this when certain criteria were met and BWSR staff approved. SWCDs will have the authority to decide this on their own.
- There is no longer a 10-year effective life requirement for all structural and vegetative practices. Flexibility has been increased to allow contract duration to better align with the practice lifespan identified in applicable standards.
- Percent based cost share is no longer capped at 75% (50% for well sealing). The SWCD will set the cost share rate.
- Flat rate cost share is no longer limited to buffers, nonstructural land management practices, and pre-construction cover.
- Nonstructural practices can be implemented without prior approval from BWSR.
- Incentives can now be utilized.
- The procedures in the Implementing Contracts with Land Occupiers section of the Grants Administration Manual (GAM) must still be followed.
- A contract continues to be required when funds are used to provide financial assistance to install projects, but SWCDs will no longer be required to use BWSR contract and voucher forms. BWSR will continue to provide examples, but SWCDs can customize to meet their needs without BWSR approval. The requirements identified in the Project and Practice Assurance section of the GAM must still be met.
Technical Quality Assurance
- SWCDs must continue to ensure long-term public benefit of projects through the use of technical service providers, standards, certification, operation and maintenance, and periodic project inspection consistent with the Technical Quality Assurance section of the GAM.
Financial Assistance Policy
- SWCDs are encouraged to adopt their own financial assistance policy before entering into any contracts. Policy suggestions can be found in the Recommended Local Policies and Requirements section of the GAM.
- SWCDs must continue to follow the requirements and procedures for grant reporting found in the Reporting Requirements for BWSR Grants and Closing out a BWSR Grant sections of the GAM.
- There will be no requirement for a grant work plan as the new BWSR program policy will suffice.
Note: No changes are required if an SWCD wants to keep doing what they’ve been doing.
For more Information:
Contact your Board Conservationist.