Financing Habitat Protection
Given the relative lack of discretionary funds available to most municipalities for addressing conservation projects, grants can be a vital source of money to support conservation-related projects. Depending on the source, grants provide monetary assistance for land acquisition, trail development and public access, habitat restoration and enhancement, open space planning, and strategic conservation planning.
Grant amounts and availability may vary from year to year and matching funds or in kind donations must be provided to receive most awards. In addition, each grantor has a mission and specific areas of interest and will generally only fund those projects that will meet their goals and may only fund certain types of organizations. Make sure that you research the foundation or grant-making organization and specific fund thoroughly to be certain your project and organization are a good fit before spending the time and effort to prepare a proposal. Also, grant funds received and local matching requirements have local budget implications. Grant administration and reporting takes time and all partners should be made aware of their likely roles and responsibilities through project completion.
The following section briefly summarizes the major programs currently available to support land conservation in Maine and offers examples of how communities and organizations have used these sources to complete conservation projects. There may be other funding sources available that are not included on the following list. Additional information on grant opportunities can be found through the Maine Philanthropy Center at the University of Southern Maine. The Maine Philanthropy Center provides references for funding sources through the Foundations Center Database, a comprehensive and searchable CD for identifying grants. Additionally the USFWS Gulf of Maine Program provides a list of potential funding sources as well as technical assistance.
For those with limited grant writing experience or with an interest in improving their grant writing skills, grant writing workshops are available throughout the state and may be helpful to attend. Workshops are offered by the Maine Philanthropy Center (www.mainephilanthropy.org), the Maine Association of Non-Profits (www.nonprofitmaine.org ), and the Maine Community Foundation (www.mainecf.org).