CELCP | Apply

Applying for a CELCP Grant

Applicant Eligibility

Coastal states with a coastal management program or national estuarine research reserve approved under the Coastal Zone Management Act may participate in the CELCP. A state must have developed a CELCP plan in order to compete for funding.

Each participating state or territory has a CELCP lead contact who coordinates implementation of the program for the state or territory (typically, the coastal management program), including the development of its CELCP plan and running the state selection process. 

Within those states eligible to compete for funds, additional state agencies and local governments, as defined in the CELCP guidelines, may receive funds and hold title to land under CELCP. Eligible state and local governments should contact their state CELCP lead for information on the state’s priorities and selection process.


Project Eligibility

The maximum amount of grant funds available per project is specified in the federal funding opportunity notice and is typically $3 million. 

To be eligible for funding, the proposed project must:

  • Protect important coastal and estuarine areas that have significant conservation, ecological, historical, aesthetic, or recreation values, or that are threatened by conversion from their natural or recreational state to other uses.
  • Be located within a state's designated CELCP area (as defined in its CELCP plan) which is based on its coastal watershed or coastal zone boundary.
  • Be submitted by an eligible public entity, (i.e. state agency, local government, or other entity specified in the CELCP guidelines).
  • Provide for non-Federal public ownership in perpetuity (note: in-kind match properties may be held by a qualified non-governmental organization whose primary mission is to acquire and manage land for the purposes of conservation).
  • Provide public access, or other public benefit, as appropriate and consistent with resource protection.
  • Acquire property or conservation easements from willing sellers.
  • Provide non-Federal matching funds in the form of cash or in-kind contributions at a ratio of 1.  Visit the Cost Share Requirements section of the CELCP guidelines for more information.
  • Advance the goals, objectives, or implementation of the state coastal management program or plan or National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) management plan, or a local, regional or state watershed protection plan.
  • Be consistent with the state’s approved coastal management program.

CELCP's authorizing legislation requires that 15 percent of funds be provided to projects that benefit NERRs. To qualify, applicants must include a support letter from the appropriate Reserve Manager describing and/or validating benefits to the reserve.  Applicants should show the relative location of the project to the NERR’s targeted watershed boundary, within which conservation activities provide direct benefits to the reserve.  Targeted watershed maps are available on the "In Your State" webpage in pdf format and instructions for accessing GIS shapefiles are available.


CELCP Guidelines

The Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program Final Guidelines, published in the Federal Register in June of 2003, establish the eligibility, procedural and programmatic requirements for CELCP, including criteria for financial assistance, eligible and ineligible uses of CELCP funds, as well as long-term uses that are considered consistent or inconsistent with conservation under the program.

The guidelines also outline the criteria and process for developing state coastal and estuarine land conservation plans, selecting and nominating land conservation projects from states to a national competitive process, and the national project selection process.

NOAA is in the process of updating the guidelines in order to clarify certain provisions and consider other changes. Comments and suggested revisions to the guidelines have been received in response to a Federal Register Notice (73 Fed. Reg. 19, 193, April 4) published in 2008.


CELCP Competition

There are two stages to applying for competitive CELCP funds—a state selection process and a national selection process.  The competition is run on an annual basis, subject to anticipated funding.


Stage 1 State competition

NOAA initiates a competition by issuing an annual Federal Funding Opportunity Notice.  Typically the funding notice solicits up to three projects, to be submitted by each eligible coastal state and territory’s designated CELCP lead agency.

The state or territory CELCP lead agency runs a selection process and to choose which projects to submit to the national CELCP competition. Interested parties should contact the appropriate state CELCP lead for information on state project solicitation processes.


Stage 2 National competition

The CELCP lead agency then submits selected projects to NOAA for the national competition through Grants.gov.  For more information on submitting a grant through grants.gov visit: Grants.gov Applicant Resources.

For the national competition, NOAA conducts a technical review of proposals to determine whether they are ready and eligible, and a merit-based peer review process to rank proposals for funding. The ranked list of projects serves as a guide for selecting projects for funding within the amounts appropriated for that year.

NOAA announces the list of selected projects when final determinations are made.  NOAA will then work with recipients to finalize their grant and set them up in NOAA’s Grants Online system to manage the grant.

Example Application Information

The FY 2012 Federal Funding Opportunity notice is provided below for informational purposes, along with recommended application templates and supplementary information on project eligibility requirements, and NERR targeted watersheds. 

For more information, contact Elaine Vaudreuil at (301) 713-3155 ext. 103.