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. Funds are often used for required matches for other funding sources. 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 due November 4, 2016. 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

Grants awarded January 2016

Good Steward grants:

  • Chef Tro Enterprises LLC, Minneapolis: $15,000 to incorporate a green roof, rain gardens, stormwater cisterns, and pervious surfaces to capture and treat currently untreated stormwater from the roof and surrounding property that drains to the Mississippi River.
  • City of St. Anthony: $5,000 to install 20 native, pollinator-friendly gardens that will help slow stormwater runoff on different city, residential, commercial and institutionally-owned properties and include educational signs about the benefits of native plant biodiversity.
  • Cleveland Neighborhood Association, Minneapolis: $10,000 to install up to 15 rain gardens within the Cleveland Neighborhood that drains to Crystal Lake in Robbinsdale.
  • Field Regina Northrop Neighborhood Group, Minneapolis: $15,000 to engage private property owners to install stormwater best management practices, including permeable pavers, rain gardens, stormwater cisterns, and a green roof to capture and treat stormwater within the Field Regina Northrop Neighborhood that drains to Minnehaha Creek.
  • Private landowner, Maple Grove: $22,500 to establish two native buffer strips and three bio-retention basins on two shoreline parcels to help reduce shoreline erosion and sedimentation and improve water quality of Weaver Lake.

Opportunity grants:

  • Metro Blooms: $50,000 to install up to 50 stormwater best management practices on private property adjacent to eight critical alleys in the Diamond Lake and Lynnhurst neighborhoods affecting the water quality of Diamond Lake and Minnehaha Creek. The practices are designed to reduce runoff, sediment and nutrient loads from each of the eight alley sheds.
  • Minnehaha Creek Watershed District: $100,000 to incorporate channel stabilization, stream enhancement, riparian corridor improvements, habitat restoration, wetland restoration and enhancement, and flood protection and resiliency practices along Minnehaha Creek in St. Louis Park as part of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s redesign of Meadowbrook golf course.
  • Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association, Minneapolis: $40,000 to replace an existing bituminous alleyway with permeable pavers and adjacent best management practices in a shared alleyway to treat currently untreated stormwater runoff draining to Minnehaha Creek and alleviate flooding issues. 

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.

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

Farmers, rural landowners and agricultural supply businesses can apply for low-interest loans through Hennepin County to make improvements or implement practices that will reduce or prevent nonpoint source pollution. The county works with local banks to provide these loans.

Eligible projects:

  • Animal waste control systems, such as runoff control structures and agricultural waste systems or pits
  • Practices that reduce erosion from runoff, such as grass waterways, erosion and sediment control basins, and terraces
  • Purchase of conservation tillage equipment, such as 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 Management 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, contact Greg Senst at or 612-348-4659.

Minnesota buffer law

A new buffer initiative aimed at protecting Minnesota's waters was signed into law in 2015. The buffer initiative will reduce erosion and pollution from runoff by establishing about 110,000 acres of buffers along Minnesota waterways.

A buffer is vegetated land adjacent to a stream, river, lake or wetland. Buffers help slow the flow of water and filter out phosphorous, nitrogen, and sediment, which are all pollutants that degrade water quality.

Buffer law requirements

The law includes the following requirements for buffer widths:

  • An average of 50 feet and minimum of 30 feet along public waters.
  • A minimum of 16.5 feet on public drainage systems.

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources is overseeing implementation of the buffer law, and they are working on program development. Learn more about the buffer program

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is creating buffer maps that will determine which waters are subject to the new requirements. The buffer protection maps are expected to be completed by July 2016. Learn more about the buffer mapping project.


Landowners may install buffers on their own at any time, or they can wait until the maps are complete to see if waters on their land are included in 2016. Buffers must be in place along all public waters by November 1, 2017, and buffers must be in place on all public drainage systems by November 1, 2018.

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