Metro Council awards restoration and enhancement grants to nine groups
The Metro Council today awarded $144,675 in Nature in Neighborhoods restoration and enhancement grants to nine local organizations. Grants are intended to protect water quality and fish and wildlife habitat throughout the region. This year's projects help low-income and underserved students learn about their watershed and healthy agriculture and farming practices. Activities will engage scores of volunteers in large-scale efforts to restore degraded streams for salmon, and nesting and rearing habitat for sensitive turtle species.
Since its inception in 2006, the restoration and enhancement grant program has issued more than $1.6 million to help fund 85 hands-on projects connecting people to nature and improving green spaces in local communities.
As grants are required to obtain matching funds, Metro's investments have acted as a catalyst by encouraging some 360 private, public and nonprofit community partners to contribute more than $7 million to accomplish these projects. In addition, volunteers have donated an estimated 80,000 hours. Funding for the program was provided by excise taxes collected on solid waste disposal.
"The goal of connecting people to nature in their own neighborhood is exceeding our expectations," said Metro Councilor Rod Park, who originated the grant program and has worked to ensure continued funding. "The projects not only continue to make positive impacts on the environment, but they engage residents of all ages and give support to dozens of classrooms and thousands of students and teachers."
Nature in Neighborhoods is an incentive-based program to inspire residents, businesses, non-profit organizations and governments to safeguard water quality, protect valuable wildlife habitat and conserve or restore native ecosystems. The projects receiving funding represent innovative public-partnerships that include the education community, the solid waste community, non-profit organizations and individuals doing on-the-ground restoration work, hands-on education, curriculum development and community building.