Conservation Easement Grants

Common Waters Fund c/o Pinchot Institute

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Grant amount: Up to US $50,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: Counties in New Jersey: Sussex County, Warren County, Counties in New York: Broome County, Delaware County, Orange County Show all

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:



The Common Waters Fund was established as part of a forest-to-faucet initiative to preserve the quality of water in the Delaware River Basin by helping forest landowners in the Upper Delaware River Watershed improve the management of and conserve their private forest lands, and to enlist downstream users who benefit to help in that conservation effort.

Conservation Easements

The Common Waters Fund will provide financial assistance to qualified 501(c)3 land trusts and conservancies for the purpose of forest conservation for source water protection. In the event that a landowner wants to donate or sell an easement to a qualified land trust, assistance is available to cover certain expenses associated with its establishment. The property must be located within a Priority Funding Area as designated by the Common Waters Fund.

The maximum grant for a typical application is $25,000. For extraordinary or very large easements, the maximum grant is $50,000.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Easements must be held by a 501(c)3 land trust and should be at least 25 acres in size to qualify for funding from this program. 
    • Conservation easements under 25 acres will be considered on a case by case basis and may be accepted if extraordinary values are present.
    • Extraordinary values that will be considered include significant natural resources values for water quality or uniquely situated lands, e.g. significant stream frontage in a Priority Funding Area.
  • All conservation easements, donated or purchased, established with funding from the Common Waters Fund, must allow sustainable forest management.
  • The property must be located within a Priority Funding Area as designated by the Common Waters Fund.
  • The following costs are eligible for funding under the Common Waters Fund:
    • Baseline documentation costs (such as a list of flora and fauna of interest, photographs of the property, topographic and soils mapping)
    • Customary legal fees
    • Monitoring, stewardship, and legal defense funds (typical maximum of $15,000; may exceed $15,000 for extraordinary and large properties)
    • Phase I environmental assessment
    • Recording of deed of conservation easement
    • Signs
    • Survey
    • Title search
    • General staff support for easement related activities (capped at 10% of total grant request)


  • There is a strong preference for applications for grants to support projects that are in the final stages of development (e.g. cost recovery and/or completion of the final steps of an easement project). 
    • Grants may also be provided for projects that are in earlier stages of development if funding will allow the project to move forward when it otherwise would not.


  • Eligible costs incurred by the applicant after the expiration date of the applicable grant contract will not be reimbursed by the Common Waters Fund and will be the sole responsibility of the applicant.