graphic showing outline of Minnesota

An important early step in finding ways to increase landscape resiliency is to determine what programs and funding opportunities are available to assist projects. The table below summarizes state and federal funding opportunities that focus on the topics of landscape resiliency and climate adaptation. Most of the programs provide funding for agricultural land; those that also provide funding for urban land are noted in the table. Landowners should work with local NRCS, SWCD, or DNR staff as needed for additional guidance.

State and Federal Funding Opportunities

Program Category

Program

Program Goals

Program Details

State Program

Clean Water Fund (BWSR) (Urban or Agricultural Land)

For the implementation of targeted conservation projects and practices in rural and urban landscapes to improve water quality.

These competitive grants focus on a wide variety of conservation practices that improve water quality, but can also sequester carbon and decrease nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizer, including: tree planting, grass planting, prairie and wetland restoration, windbreaks/shelterbelts, grassed waterways, contour buffer strips, filter strips, riparian buffers, critical area planting, and cover crops

State Program State Cost-Share (BWSR) (Urban or Agricultural Land) To provide grants for installing conservation practices that protect and improve water quality by controlling soil erosion and reducing sedimentation. This program involves partnerships with local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to install a wide range of conservation practices for soil conservation and water quality improvement.  There is no minimum acreage size for projects.
State Program Reinvest in Minnesota RIM (BWSR) Conservation Easements (pdf) To restore marginal and environmentally sensitive land, protect soil and water quality, and restore fish and wildlife habitat on privately owned land. Landowners receive a payment to voluntarily enroll land in a conservation easement. A variety of land types are eligible, including wetland restoration areas, riparian agricultural lands, marginal cropland, pastured hillsides, and sensitive groundwater areas. After land is enrolled, it is managed under a conservation plan, which generally includes items like wetland restoration (for areas with drained wetlands), native grass plantings, and tree plantings. The land remains in private ownership and the landowner retains responsibility for maintenance.

State Program

MN Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MDA)

 

To encourage adoption of recommended best management practices (BMPs) to reduce climate change impacts of water runoff, help maintain healthy soil, and minimize pests.

A voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to receive priority for technical assistance and cost-share dollars and lead in implementing conservation practices that protect Minnesota waters. To obtain certification farms are comprehensively assessed for all risks to water quality across the entire farming operation. With all risks treated and certification obtained, growers in turn obtain regulatory certainty for a period of ten years.

State Program

AGRI Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program (MDA)

To support innovative on-farm research and demonstrations.

The program funds projects that explore the profitability, energy efficiency, and environmental benefits of practices or systems from production through marketing. Projects include farm diversification, cover crops and crop rotations, on-farm energy production, market and supply chain development, and other creative initiatives.

State Program

Drinking Water Revolving Fund Loan Program (MDH/PFA)(Urban or Agricultural Land)

To encourage the development of sustainable water infrastructure.

The Drinking Water Revolving Fund (DWRF) provides below market rate loans for public water system improvements. Loans are most often used to replace or upgrade wells, treatment plants, water towers, or distribution systems. 

Federal Program

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

 

To retire and convert highly erodible cropland and other environmentally sensitive acreage to vegetative cover.

CREP is an offshoot of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the country’s largest private-land conservation program. Administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), CREP targets state-identified, high-priority conservation issues. The program targets 54 counties in southern and western Minnesota, with a goal of protecting up to 60,000 acres. It prioritizes water quality and habitat through the restoration and protection of marginal cropland, focusing on wetland restoration, buffer strips, and source water protection.

Federal Program

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service voluntary programs

Offers financial and technical assistance programs to eligible landowners and agricultural producers to help manage natural resources in a sustainable manner.

The Conservation Stewardship Program helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance—the higher the performance, the higher the payment.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits, such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, or improved or created wildlife habitat.

Conservation Innovation Grants offer funding opportunities at the state level to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies that leverage federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection.

Federal Program

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wetland Easements (USFWS)

To improve water and soil quality, restore wildlife habitat, enhance pollinator habitat, and facilitate flood control through perpetual easements.

The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Act (The Duck Stamp Act) authorizes the purchase of lands using the revenue from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps for the purpose of improving the production of migratory birds, especially waterfowl. The Duck Stamp Act also funds the purchase of wetland and habitat easements. The wetland easement involves a signed agreement with a landowner protecting wetlands on their land from being burned, drained, filled, or leveled in perpetuity. The landowner receives a one-time payment for protecting the wetlands. When protected wetlands go through dry cycles, they can be farmed, grazed or hayed without violating the agreement. The land remains in private control, and the landowner controls access to these wetlands. 

Federal Program

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat/ Grassland Easements (USFWS)

 

To improve water and soil quality, restore wildlife habitat, enhance pollinator habitat, and facilitate flood control by providing financial and restoration assistance.

Habitat easements generally protect both grassland and wetland habitat, but again the property remains in private control and the landowner allows access. Various options are offered :  

  • The Service purchases the rights to graze, hay, farm, drain, and harvest seed from the property.
  • The haying option purchases all of the above rights except the right to hay or harvest seed. The landowner can hay or harvest seed after July 15th each year, which allows most ground nesting birds to hatch their eggs before any cutting is done.
  • The grazing option allows the landowner to graze the land with no restrictions, but the Service still purchases the rights to hay, harvest seed, farm, and drain.
  • A haying and grazing option allows the landowner to hay after July 15 and graze, but the Service purchases the rights to farm and drain.

With any of these options, the landowner receives a one-time payment for the rights that the Service purchases from them.