Background

The Erosion Control and Water Management Program, commonly known as the State Cost Share Program, provides funds to SWCDs to share the costs with the landowners for the implementation of high priority erosion, sedimentation, or water quality problems, or water quantity problems due to altered hydrology. To receive the grants and according to Minnesota Statute 103C.501, SWCDs are required to provide the BWSR with an application that has the district’s comprehensive plan and an annual work plan. 

Prior to FY12, SWCDs submitted annual plans that met formatting and content requirements established by the BWSR. From FY12 through FY21, BWSR accepted Biennial Budget Requests (BBR) as the means to request/apply for SWCDs State Cost Share grants. In 2019, the BWSR discontinued the use of the BBR. This elimination of the BBR prompted the need to develop a new means to meet 103C.501 so SWCDs can receive State Cost Share grants for FY22 and beyond.

Several alternatives were considered including changing statute requirements, reverting to pre-FY12 requirements, and requiring an annual grant request in the form of an eLINK work plan for the State Cost Share grant. BWSR selected the annual grant request in the form of an eLINK work plan as the means for SWCDs to request SWCD State Cost Share grants.

This guidance provides information on how SWCDs can request State Cost Share grants. It also incorporates the request and approval of Nonstructural Land Management Practices and the Technical Assistance Option.

SWCD Annual Work Plan Transition
SWCD Annual Work Plan Transition Diagram

 

Annual Grant Request Requirements

The annual grant request for State Cost Share program grants for FY 2022 and beyond shall be completed as a work plan in eLINK (or its successor). The work plans should follow the general process as identified in the eLINK Guidance: Creating an SWCD State Cost Share Workplan. eLINK work plan examples can be found here:

Work Plan Activity Requirements

Activities that will fund the installation of structural and vegetative practices

Not all conservation activity categories within eLINK are cost share grant eligible. If SWCD staff have questions about grant and activity eligibility, they should contact their Board Conservationist.

The state cost share program is meant to address “high priority erosion, sedimentation, and water quality problems in the district”. These high priority problems must be identified in the district’s adopted comprehensive plan. This can be a locally developed SWCD comprehensive plan, a county local water management plan, or an adopted Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan (1W1P). In the activity description, the SWCD must identify the plan(s) they are operating under.

SWCD staff should refer to the Chart of Practices by Activity Category to determine the activity category that contains the practices they plan to install. If there are changes that need to be made to the work plan during the course of the grant, please refer to the Grant Agreement Amendments and Work Plan Revisions chapter of the GAM. Consult your Board Conservationist if you have any questions or need assistance in making changes to a cost share grant work plan.

Activities that will fund base technical and administrative (TA) staff expenses

Conservation Districts may take up to 20% of the cost share grant as Technical/Administrative funding without any additional BWSR approval. When building a work plan, SWCDs should use either the Administration/Coordination or the Technical/Engineering Assistance activity category. While SWCD staff need to track their hourly time to this grant, they can lump the two actions together under one activity category. If desired, SWCDs may separate out Administration/Coordination and Technical/Engineering Assistance and budget the available amount accordingly.

Activities that will fund enhanced technical and administrative (TA) staff expenses

A SWCD choosing to use the enhanced TA option must identify that option in their Administration and Technical Assistance activity description. The SWCD must identify how the use of these funds will meet the requirements as established in Section 2.2 of the State Cost Share Policy.

In addition to identifying how the additional administrative and technical assistance funds will meet the state cost share policy, the SWCD must include the board meeting date at which the SWCD Board requested use of additional technical/administrative funds and the months of unrestricted fund balance as identified in the SWCD’s last audit.

Activities that will fund nonstructural land management practices (NLMP)

For SWCDs that choose to include the implementation of nonstructural land management practices within their work plan, the local SWCD Nonstructural Land Management Policy must be uploaded as an attachment to eLINK. The SWCD must reference the local policy (“See attached policy.”) in the activity description for the Nonstructural Land Management Practice activity.