Natural resources project funding and assistance

Hennepin County offers a variety of programs that provide funding and expert assistance in implementing projects that protect natural resources.

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Natural resources grants

Grants are available to landowners, which include individuals, government organizations, nonprofit organization and businesses, for projects that preserve and restore the county’s natural resources. These grants support projects that preserve and restore natural areas and reduce the amount of nutrients and sediment flowing into lakes, streams and rivers while engaging residents in natural resource management issues.

Two types of grants are available:

  • Good steward grants are primarily for smaller projects that improve water quality, enhance natural areas and promote environmental stewardship to the community. A typical grant amount is $5,000 to $15,000, with a maximum amount of $25,000.
  • Opportunity grants are ideal for larger projects seeking to leverage multiple funding sources. These grants are intended to help partners take advantage of opportunities to implement large projects that improve water quality or preserve, establish or restore natural areas. A typical grant amount is $25,000 to $50,000, with a maximum amount of $100,000.

See the Natural Resources Grants flyer (PDF) to learn more about the difference between the grant types.


Good steward grants

Applications are accepted once per year in the fall. Applications for the fall 2015 funding round are due by 5 p.m. on November 6. To apply:

Opportunity grants

Applications are accepted at any time. Funds are limited and awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Contact Jim Kujawa at or 612-348-7338 for more information.

Eligible applicants

All landowners are eligible to apply, including:

  • Individuals
  • Nonprofit and non-governmental organizations
  • Local government agencies
  • Businesses

Funding guidelines and project examples

Funding may be used for environmental or engineering consulting fees, materials, supplies, labor and inspection fees.

Good steward grants

  • Ideal for smaller, community-based or single applicant projects. Typical projects include constructing rain gardens, stabilizing stream banks, restoring native vegetation, installing vegetated filter strips or implementing other best management projects.
  • Typical funding amount of $5,000 to $15,000; maximum funding amount of $25,000
  • Grant funding can cover up to 75 percent of the total eligible project cost. Landowners must contribute the remaining 25 percent of project costs, which can be cash or in-kind.

Opportunity grants

  • Ideal for larger projects seeking to leverage multiple funding sources from more than one partner.
  • Ideal for projects identified as priorities in the applicant's management plans (such as a comprehensive plan or watershed management plan).
  • Typical funding amount of $25,000 to $50,000; maximum funding amount of $100,000.
  • No match required. Funds are often used for required match for other funding sources.

Projects awarded

Opportunity grants awarded July 2015

  • City of Minneapolis, Lake Nokomis Neighbors for Clean Water: $50,000 to work with residents in the neighborhoods near Lake Nokomis to install 160 – 180 stormwater best management practices (BMPs) that will reduce stormwater runoff leaving the participating properties. The practices will divert water running off roofs and hard surfaces into the rain gardens, permeable pavement systems and trench drains. This will improve the quality of water flowing into Lake Nokomis, which is listed as impaired due to excessive nutrients. The project will leverage nearly $600,000 in Clean Water Fund grants, local and in-kind matches.
  • Parkway Place Homeowners Association: $ 50,000 to implement a major redesign and stormwater runoff retrofit on the complex grounds of the 22-unit townhouse association. This project will reduce the amount of onsite impervious surfaces by roughly 20 percent and will direct stormwater runoff through newly constructed rain gardens, reducing phosphorous entering Minnehaha Creek. The project will leverage $100,000 from other funding sources.

Grants awarded January 2015

In January, 2015, the county awarded four grants for projects that will preserve, protect or improve natural resources and water quality. Best management practices that will be installed include bio-retention ponds, rain gardens and permeable pavers. The grants will leverage $119,060 from local in-kind activities and cash matches.

The following projects were awarded:

  • Continental Restaurants, Inc. (d.b.a. Black Forest Inn), Minneapolis: $20,000 to use stormwater planters, catch basins and infiltration BMPs to capture and treat stormwater from the roof and surrounding the property. This water is currently untreated.
  • City of Plymouth: $10,000 to partner with the Wayzata Independent School District 284 to incorporate an iron-enhanced treatment system into two existing treatment ponds to reduce nutrient loading to Elm Creek.
  • Longfellow Community Council, Minneapolis: $12,000 to install 40 residential rain gardens within the Longfellow Neighborhood to reduce stormwater runoff and its associated pollutants from entering into the Mississippi River.
  • Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association, Minneapolis: $13,920 to engage private property owners in the installation of up to 15 stormwater best management practices including rain gardens and permeable pavement strips to reduce runoff to the Mississippi River.

Well sealing cost share program

The Well Sealing Cost Share Grant Program offers grants to Hennepin County property owners to recover a portion of the cost they paid to seal wells on their property that are no longer in use. Hennepin County will contract directly with eligible property owners that have applied for a grant and have received grant approval. The property owner must receive grant approval before any well sealing work is completed.

Note: Well sealing activities that were completed prior to the property owner receiving grant approval will not be eligible for reimbursement.

To receive reimbursement, grantees must submit the documentation specified in the grant contract after the well sealing work has been completed. 

Grant selection

The highest priority wells will be selected for grant approval, based on the merit of applications received. The selection process factors in characteristics such as well depth, well diameter, proximity to municipal wellhead protection areas and other environmental factors that may increase the potential for contamination of municipal ground water resources. The program will pay up to 75 percent of the well sealing cost, not to exceed $2,000 per well. The amount of funding available through this program is limited.

After receiving a completed application, the county will notify the applicant regarding their eligibility for a grant. If your well sealing project is eligible for grant funding, you must contract with a state-licensed well sealing contractor to perform all required work. Work must be done in accordance with the Minnesota Well Code, including the filing of a sealed well record with the Minnesota Department of Health.

For more information

To find out more about eligibility requirements or to receive a grant application, see the Well Sealing Cost Share Program Grant Flyer (PDF) or call Greg Senst at 612-348-4659.Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment

State cost-share program

The state cost-share program provides financial and technical assistance to landowners who implement conservation practices that reduce soil erosion and/or sedimentation in order to improve water quality. The state program was established in 1977 and is administered locally by Hennepin County.

Eligible projects

Projects eligible for financial assistance must be designed for an effective life of at least 10 years and meet one of the following objectives:

  • Control nutrient runoff
  • Stabilize critical eroding areas
  • Divert runoff to protect and improve water quality
  • Reduce wind erosion
  • Control gully, rill, or sheet erosion
  • Protect shoreline from erosion
  • Control stormwater runoff
  • Protect surface water and groundwater quality

Practices eligible for state cost-share may receive funding of up to 75 percent of the total eligible costs of a conservation practice.

Technical assistance

Technical assistance provided to landowners who participate in the state cost-share program include:

  • Conducting a site investigation with the landowner
  • Working with the landowner to determine the best management practice (BMP) for the given situation
  • Surveying and designing the project
  • Producing a rough cost estimate
  • Providing the landowner with a designed plan for submission of bids
  • Performing a pre-construction conference with the contractor and landowner
  • Supervising construction
  • Certifying completion of the project

All practices must be approved prior to construction. Landowners are reimbursed upon completion.

For more information

See the State Cost-Share Program from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

Agricultural best management practices loan program

Hennepin County, in conjunction with Farm Credit Services, is offering low interest loans to make improvements or implement practices that will reduce or prevent nonpoint source pollution. Funding for this program is provided by the Minnesota State Revolving Fund and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. 

Loans may be granted to farmers, individual rural landowners, and agricultural supply businesses.

Eligible projects:

  • Animal waste control systems - runoff control structures and agricultural waste systems or pits
  • Sealing of unused or abandoned wells in rural areas
  • Practices that reduce erosion from runoff - grass waterways, erosion and sediment control basins and terraces
  • Purchase of conservation tillage equipment - chisel plows, no-till drills, and no-till planters
  • Upgrades and improvements to existing individual sewage treatment systems in rural areas

Projects NOT eligible:

  • Conservation practices that are not agriculturally related
  • Refinancing of existing facilities, structures, equipment, etc.
  • Individual projects started or equipment purchased prior to loan approval

Loans are awarded as funding is available. Applications are accepted year round. Individuals will be required to complete the Agricultural BMP (Best Managment Practice) Loan Program application as well as complete a loan application with a bank of their choice.

For more information or to apply

For more information about the loan program or to apply for funding, please call:

Greg Senst


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