NAWCA Grants Approved
On November 13, 2014, the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved $24.6 million for 24 North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) proposals for U.S Standard Grants.


U.S. Standard Grants Deadlines: February, 27, 2015 and July 7, 2015.
Canadian Standard Grants Deadline: August 7, 2015.
Mexican Standard Grants Deadline: June 1, 2015.
U.S. Small Grants Deadlines: November 5, 2015.

Purpose and Scope

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (Act, or NAWCA) of 1989 provides matching grants to organizations and individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico for the benefit of wetlands-associated migratory birds and other wildlife.

There is a Standard and a Small Grants Program. Both are competitive grants programs and require that grant requests be matched by partner contributions at no less than a 1-to-1 ratio. Funds from U.S. Federal sources may contribute towards a project, but are not eligible as match.

The Standard Grants Program supports projects in Canada, the United States, and Mexico that involve long-term protection, restoration, and/or enhancement of wetlands and associated uplands habitats. In Mexico, partners may also conduct projects involving technical training, environmental education and outreach, organizational infrastructure development, and sustainable-use studies.

The Small Grants Program operates only in the United States; it supports the same type of projects and adheres to the same selection criteria and administrative guidelines as the U.S. Standard Grants Program. However, project activities are usually smaller in scope and involve fewer project dollars. Grant requests may not exceed $75,000, and funding priority is given to grantees or partners new to the Act’s Grants Program.


The Act was passed, in part, to support activities under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, an international agreement that provides a strategy for the long-term protection of wetlands and associated uplands habitats needed by waterfowl and other migratory birds in North America. In December 2002, Congress reauthorized the Act and expanded its scope to include the conservation of all habitats and birds associated with wetlands ecosystems. In 2006, Congress reauthorized the Act to extend its appropriation authorization of up to $75 million per year to 2012.

Current Funding

The Congressional appropriation to fund the Act’s Grants Program in FY 2014 is $31,175,000. Additional program funding comes from fines, penalties, and forfeitures collected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918; from Federal fuel excise taxes on small gasoline engines, as directed by amendments to the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950, to benefit coastal ecosystem projects; and from interest accrued on the fund established under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937. In FY 2013 these other sources provided almost $31.5 million in additional grant funds.

The Process

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of Bird Habitat Conservation (Division) is responsible for facilitating the Act’s Grants Program.

Standard Grants Program: The process for receiving and preliminarily reviewing project proposals is handled slightly differently for each country and enjoys the active participation of each federal government.

Once a slate of eligible proposals has been determined per each country-program’s process, the proposals are further reviewed and ranked by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, a nine-member council established by the Act. The Council then recommends projects to the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, a seven-member commission authorized by the Act to give final funding approval to projects. The Division administers the grants for all approved Standard Grants Program projects.

Small Grants Program: The process follows that of the U.S. Standard Grants Program, except for the timing of the final funding approval. Each year, the Commission pre-approves the total amount of funding to be distributed to projects in the next fiscal year. Final project-selection authority is delegated to the Council, which then reports its selections back to the Commission. The Division administers the grants for all approved Small Grants Program projects.


From September 1990 through March 2014, approximately 5,000 partners in 2,421 projects have received nearly $1.3 billion in grants. They have contributed another $2.7 billion in matching funds to affect 27.5 million acres of habitat.


For general information about the Act’s Grants Program, contact: Division of Bird Habitat Conservation, (703) 358-1784,

Last updated: January 8, 2015