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2024 Request for Proposals for Southwest Rivers Headwaters Fund

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)





November 2, 2023



Award Floor:



Match Required?


Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah


Entity Types:

City or township governments, Nonprofits

Eligible applicants include: local, state, federal, and tribal governments and agencies (e.g., townships, cities, boroughs), special districts (e.g., conservation districts, planning districts, utility districts), non-profit 501(c) organizations, educational institutions. Ineligible applicants include: international organizations, businesses or unincorporated individuals.




Source Type:


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is requesting proposals to restore, protect and enhance aquatic and riparian species of conservation concern and their habitats in the headwaters of the Colorado River and Rio Grande watersheds.
Donor Name: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)
State: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah
Type of Grant: Grant
Deadline: 11/02/2023
Size of the Grant: Up to $2 million
Funding Information
Up to $2 million in grant funds is available. Foundation anticipates making 6-10 grant awards in this cycle.
Applicants must provide at least $1 in non-federal matching funds for every $1 of NFWF grant funds requested. Eligible matching sources can include cash, in-kind donations, and/or volunteer labor which are directly related to the project proposed for funding. Applicants must distinguish between federal and non-federal matching fund sources. Applicants for projects implementing low-tech, process-based restoration are encouraged to bring federal IIJA and IRA matching funds.
Priority Activities
Priority restoration activities that address key limiting factors for focal species in the Colorado River and Rio Grande headwaters include:
Process-based wetland, riparian and instream habitat restoration and enhancement – Restore natural fluvial process that increase floodplain connectivity, dynamic channel processes and recruitment of native riparian vegetation. Activities may include beaver mimicry structures, livestock exclusion fencing and riparian vegetation planting, removal of channel stabilizing structures, and grants may support science-based design and analysis for process-based restoration projects.
Increase water availability for species and their habitats and/or remove barriers to flow – Make available more water for environmental flows that are necessary to drive process-based restoration and sustain species and their habitats through voluntary leasing or acquisition of water rights in the focal geographies. Remove or improve infrastructure at road crossings, culverts and check dams that act as barriers to the movement of aquatic species or promote natural dynamic processes to ensure habitat connectivity and fluvial development of the whole valley bottom.
Reintroduction and translocation of focal species– Translocation of priority aquatic species to stream reaches with improved habitat and protection from invasive species. Reintroduction of or attraction projects benefitting North American beaver in a manner compatible with ongoing agricultural use and irrigation and land management objectives, and which benefits other priority species dependent on the habitat created by beaver activity.
Increase capacity for low-tech process-based restoration implementation in and among conservation organizations working in the southwest region. Here we define increased capacity broadly, from new positions within an organization to funding for contracting with external partners that bring knowledge or manpower to extend the reach of low-tech process-based restoration techniques throughout the southwest. The Fund intends to provide opportunities for training and sharing best practices to support new hires and organizations interested in expanding their reach and impact using the techniques of low-tech process-based restoration.
Increase Capacity for Implementation of NRCS IRA conservation activities in New Mexico
Increase capacity for implementation of priority conservation activities through partner positions. Applications are encouraged which support new full-time or part-time partner positions at applicant organizations such as foresters, wildlife biologists, rangeland specialists, and/or other natural resource professionals that will work in conjunction with NRCS personnel in New Mexico on a daily basis to carry out the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Duties of IRA partner positions include, but are not limited to, the following:

Providing technical assistance in the development of conservation plans and checkouts of completed practices
Preparing and/or monitoring various contract management reports.
Preparing and issuing correspondence to participants such as annual practice reminders, deferral letters, preapproval letters, and eligibility letters.
Providing assistance with the application process such as reviewing documents for completeness, verifying control of land, irrigation history, signature authority, required electronic registrations, and troubleshooting eligibility/vendor issues.
Assisting with contract management by uploading and maintaining documents in electronic systems; removing expired contracts from active contract filing cabinets; and ensuring appropriate signatures on documents.
Assisting with the completion of reviews and audits by compiling documentation needed to support audit samples.

Geographic Focus
This RFP is part of NFWF’s Southwest Rivers Program and will provide funding to projects that produce measurable outcomes for species of conservation concern in the riparian corridors of the headwaters of the Colorado River and Rio Grande. The Rio Grande Focal Area includes the main stem and headwater tributaries of the Rio Grande in Colorado and northern New Mexico, as well as the headwaters of the Rio Chama, Jemez River, and Rio Puerco. This year the Headwaters Fund focuses its priority watersheds in the Colorado River Area of Interest to include selected tributaries and headwaters of the Colorado River in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.
Projects located in the Colorado River watershed on Colorado’s Western Slope should be submitted to the concurrent RESTORE Colorado 2024 RFP. Priority projects will address the leading factors in aquatic and riparian species decline such as loss of natural processes and habitat, environmental change and invasive species through process-based methods of wetlands and riparian restoration. Maintaining healthy headwater wetlands and riparian areas provide security by improving the reliability of late season flows for water users, fish and wildlife downstream. Proposals in the Rio Grande Focal Area should strive to contribute to goals detailed in NFWF’s Southwest Rivers Business Plan, and specifically the strategies related to focal species conservation. Projects benefiting one or more of the following species and their habitats are priorities for funding.
Eligibility Criteria

Eligible applicants include: local, state, federal, and tribal governments and agencies (e.g., townships, cities, boroughs), special districts (e.g., conservation districts, planning districts, utility districts), non-profit 501(c) organizations, educational institutions.
Ineligible applicants include: international organizations, businesses or unincorporated individuals.

For more information, visit NFWF.

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