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.

Expand all information

Natural Resources Grants

Grants are available for landowners, local governments and organizations for projects to preserve and restore critical corridors and wildlife habitat, reduce soil erosion and improve water quality. 

See the Natural Resources Grants flyer (pdf) to learn about the grant guidelines.


Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on October 15, 2014.

To apply:

Eligible applicants

Eligible applicants include the following entities in Hennepin County:

  • Individuals landowners
  • Non-profit and non-governmental organizations
  • Local government agencies
  • Businesses

Funding guidelines

Projects may receive up to $50,000. Funding is available to share the costs of project implementation for projects located within Hennepin County.

  • The maximum cost-share grant provided shall not exceed 75% of the total eligible project cost.
  • The landowner is responsible for contributing the remaining 25% of the cost of project installation. The contribution may be in cash and/or in-kind contribution.
  • Additional funds may available as a match for projects that Hennepin County is a partner on that are successful at leveraging other grant funds.

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

Project examples

Eligible projects implement best management practices to: 

  • Restore native vegetation
  • Reseed pastures
  • Stabilize stream banks
  • Restore wetlands
  • Build structures that reduce soil erosion, reduce stormwater runoff volume and/or increase infiltration
  • Install grass waterways
  • Install vegetated filter strips
  • Implement manure management practices
  • Construct rain gardens

Projects awarded

April 2014

  • Cleveland Neighborhood Association, Minneapolis: $7,000 to install up to 15 rain gardens within the Cleveland Neighborhood, which drains to Crystal Lake in Robbinsdale.
  • Grace Center for Community Life, Minneapolis: $14,000 to construct a permeable paver plaza in the community park that the church is creating in its old parking lot. Signage with both active and passive educational opportunities will be promoted in the park setting.
  • City of Richfield, Wood Lake Nature Center: $15,000 to install a rain garden to collect the runoff from the parking lot, which drains directly into the wetland in the Wood Lake Nature Center. The project will incorporate educational opportunities for nature center visitors.
  • City of Hopkins: $15,000 to add an iron-enhanced filter system in a stormwater pond adjacent to Minnehaha Creek, decreasing phosphorus flows to the creek by approximately 80 percent.
  • City of Minneapolis: $6,000 to implement a demonstration project that will divert water from roof gutters and driveways into buffers and rain gardens instead of flowing directly into storms sewers that lead to Lake Nokomis. This will greatly enhance infiltration and filtration. These projects will be showcased in anticipation of a watershed-wide project in 2015 and 2016.
  • John Buechler, Dayton: $8,000 to establish 10 acres of native prairie on property he owns adjacent to Diamond Lake in Dayton. This project will reduce runoff volume and nutrients on 10 acres while improving soil structure, wildlife habitat and plant diversity.
The awarded projects will reduce nutrient loads and protect water quality in Hennepin County. These grants will implement stormwater best management practices (including bio-retention, bio-filtration, rain gardens, conversion of impervious areas to permeable pavers, and the installation of an iron-enhanced filtration system), promote stormwater reuse, stabilize and enhance riparian areas and reestablish native prairie. The grants will leverage $483,000 in Clean Water Legacy Fund grants and $612,969 from local in-kind and cash matches.

July 2013

  • Staring Lake Iron-enhanced Filtration Bench, Eden Prairie: $25,000 to retrofit an existing storm water pond with an iron-enhanced filtration bench. This project is anticipated to reduce dissolved phosphorous in storm water discharge from the pond by 80 to 90 percent.
  • Village Evangelical Free Church Bio-filtration Basin, Independence: $4,900 to install a bio-filtration basin to intercept roof and parking lot runoff before it enters a stream tributary to Lake Independence. The purpose and benefits of the basin will be promoted through city and church web pages and through active and passive education opportunities.
  • Victory Neighborhood Rain Garden Project, Minneapolis: $6,200 to install up to 20 rain gardens in a 7-block area within the Victory Neighborhood that drains to Ryan Lake.
  • Holland Neighborhood Rain Garden Project, Minneapolis: $4,000 to install up to 15 rain gardens that will help reduce water volume and nutrients entering the Mississippi River.
  • 400 Project, Plymouth: $50,000 to reduce existing impervious surfaces in parking lots and increases infiltration through the installation of porous pavement and reinforced turf technology.
  • Rockford High School Rain Garden, Rockford: $8,600 to install a rain garden near the main entrance of Rockford High School. The project will be incorporated into the school’s science and math course work.
  • Fox Creek Streambank Stabilization, Rogers: $6,000 to stabilize 210 feet of stream bank with fieldstone riprap, channel reconstruction, wetland restoration and in-stream flow diversion.

These grants will establish 31 rain gardens, stabilize 210 feet of stream banks, install a bio-filtration basin and iron filtration pond outlet system, and create 20 to 40 acres of pervious pavement. The grants will leverage $416,775 from the Clean Water Legacy Fund and $189,863 from local in-kind and cash matches.

Well sealing cost share program

The Well Sealing Cost Share Grant Program offers grants to Hennepin County property owners to cover a portion of the cost for sealing old wells that are no longer in use. The county will contract directly with eligible property owners to reimburse them, after the work has been completed, for a portion of their costs to seal the wells.

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, please 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


Collapse all information