Grants and Loans Center

The department provides a number of direct grants and project grant programs as well as reimbursement programs and low to no-interest loans. Some are federal funds matched by state dollars and some are state funds often matched by local dollars.

Chesapeake and Coastal Service

Chesapeake and Coastal Grants Gateway

To assist Maryland’s communities, the Grants Gateway provides a single point of entry for organizations seeking technical and financial assistance to restore local waterways, increase their resilience to climate impacts, strengthen local economies, and to develop the next generation of environmental stewards. Grants are made possible with funding through the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, the Coastal Resiliency Program, the Waterway Improvement Fund, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program.

Aquatic Resources Education Grants Program

Assist Maryland's public and private schools; provides funds for classroom, laboratory, and/or field projects for student and teacher training. Enables students to develop an appreciation of aquatic habitats by providing education materials, incentives, training and other opportunities.

Environmental Literacy: Explore and Restore Maryland's Streams

This funding opportunity is offered primarily to support costs associated with providing outdoor learning field investigations away from school campuses for students in pre-Kindergarten through grade 12, as part of comprehensive Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) that contribute to school environmental literacy programs.

Grants for Waterway Improvement

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Center for Waterway Improvement and Infrastructure Program is now accepting grant applications from local governments seeking to build, enhance or rehabilitate public boating facilities or for dredging/navigation related projects. The grant program is designed to enhance recreational boating by improving navigation, constructing or renovating public access sites, as well as providing for public safety through the acquisition of marine fire/rescue vessels.

Habitat Restoration and Conservation

The Chesapeake & Coastal Service provides the science and technical services that State and local partners need in order to meet their water quality and habitat restoration goals. CCS works with federal, state and local governments, conservation groups and private citizens to apply innovative best management practices that reduce harmful run-off from entering the State’s waters.

Innovative Technology Fund

In partnership with the University of Maryland’s Maryland Industrial Partnership Program (MIPS), the State funds Research & Development projects focused on developing technologies that reduce nutrient and sediment pollution into the Chesapeake Bay. For more information, e-mail Sarah Lane or call 410-260-8788.

Shore Erosion Control

Provides assistance to waterfront property owners in resolving shoreline and streambank erosion problems. Provides technical and financial assistance for design and installation of shoreline stabilization and streambank restoration projects. If interested, contact Bhaskar Subramanian at 410-260-8786 to discuss technical assistance and funding opportunities.

Watershed Assistance Grant Program - (Watershed Planning & Design)

In partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the state offers planning and design grants and technical assistance through the Watershed Assistance Grant Program to meet the needs of local governments and communities preparing to undertake a comprehensive restoration effort.

Marine Sewage Pumpout Facility Grants

The Department of Natural Resources provides a reimbursement of up to $15,000 to marinas for the purchase and installation of marine sewage pumpout facilities. Marinas that install these systems provide boaters with a proper method of disposing of their sewage and thus contribute to cleaning up Maryland waters. Grant funding is also available for a reimbursement of pumpout operations and pumpout operations and maintenance, pumpout upgrades and replacement. This program is funded by the Federal Clean Vessel Act (75%) with supporting funds (25%) from the Maryland Waterway Improvement Fund.

Forest Service

Maryland Urban and Community Forestry Committee Grants Program

This program helps community groups fund tree planting and education projects statewide to enhance Maryland’s urban forest. Community tree projects may be organized via schools, service organizations, homeowner organizations or other volunteer-based groups. The projects must be located on public lands in parks, metropolitan areas, cities or towns. The maximum grant awarded per project is $1,000.

Volunteer Fire Assistance Program

This program provides financial, technical, and related assistance to rural volunteer fire departments and their communities and awards sub-grants of up to $3000 per department on a 50/50 cost share basis to enhance wildland fire suppression capabilities and firefighter safety, as well as provide basic wildland fire training classes for volunteer fire department members and promote the use of wildland personal protective equipment.

Land Acquisition and Planning

Community Parks and Playgrounds

This program provides funding to allow the State to focus on restoring existing and creating new park and green space systems in Maryland's cities and towns through flexible grants to local governments to respond to the unmet need for assistance to rehabilitate, expand or improve existing parks, create new parks, develop environmentally oriented parks and recreation projects, or purchase and install playground equipment in older neighborhoods and intensely developed areas throughout the state.

Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund

Municipalities and counties may apply for up to 50 percent matching fund assistance from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In Maryland, the Department of Natural Resources, Land Acquisition and Planning Unit, is responsible for managing the program, coordinating grant rounds for project funding, and monitoring past project sites for program compliance.

Program Open Space

Program Open Space – Local provides financial and technical assistance to local subdivisions for the planning, acquisition, and/or development of recreation land or open space areas and administers funds made available to local communities for open and recreational space by the Outdoor Recreation Land Loan of 1969 and from the Land and Water Conservation Fund of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

Rural Legacy Program

Maryland’s Rural Legacy Program provides funding to preserve large, contiguous tracts of land and to enhance natural resource, agricultural, forestry and environmental protection while supporting a sustainable land base for natural resource based industries. The program creates public-private partnerships and allows those who know the landscape best – land trusts and local governments – to determine the best way to protect the landscapes that are critical to our economy, environment and quality of life.

Maryland Environmental Trust

Keep Maryland Beautiful Grants

Environmental Education, Community Initiatives and Cleanup Grants are available to nonprofits, schools and municipalities who do environmental educations projects, community engagement and neighborhood greening initiatives and include:

  • Bill James Environmental Grant of up to $1,000. These grants are awarded to school groups, science and ecology clubs, and other nonprofit youth groups for proposed environmental education projects.
  • Clean Up & Green Up Maryland Grant of up to $5,000. These grants are awarded to help community groups and nonprofit organizations statewide with neighborhood beautification activities that include litter removal, greening activities, community education, and citizen stewardship statewide.
  • Margaret Rosch Jones Grant of up to $2,000. These grants are awarded to nonprofit groups or communities for an ongoing project or activity that has demonstrated success in solving an environmental issue.

Land Trust Capacity, Excellence and Stewardship Grants are intended to increase land trust capacity, support programing and innovation and foster stronger, better connected land trusts that will protect all natural resources and enhance the lives of Maryland citizens and generations to come. These grants are available to local land trust in Maryland and include:

  • Aileen Hughes Grant of up to $5,000. This grant is awarded to an individual representing a Maryland land trust for outstanding leadership, partnership and innovation in a conservation project or organization development.
  • Janice Hollmann Grant of up to $10,000. This grant is awarded to Maryland land trusts to increase capacity, support community programing and innovation and foster stronger, better connected land trusts. All grants require a 100% match from the land trust of in-kind services and privately raised funds.

Cost-share Programs

Forest Service - Costshare Programs

Wildlife and Heritage Service

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

Since 1997, Maryland’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) has helped thousands of Maryland landowners plant streamside buffers, establish wetlands, protect highly erodible land, and create wildlife habitat while providing them with steady, dependable land rental income. CREP is a state-federal partnership that makes it easy for farmers to do their part to protect local waterways without hurting their bottom line. This completely voluntary program offers a one-time signing bonus, attractive annual rental and incentive payments, cost-share assistance for streamside buffers, wetlands, livestock fencing and more. Plus, CREP buffers meet all Maryland setback requirements and can help finance required stream protection practices for livestock operations.


Tax Credit Programs

Some of the department's programs have enacted legislation to provide tax incentives to the public who are interested in providing certain stewardship efforts.


Forest Service

Forest Conservation Program

Works to minimize the loss of Maryland's forest resources during land development by making the identification and protection of forests and other sensitive areas an integral part of the site planning process. Landowners agrees to manage their forest land according to a management plan that is prepared for the property. Land in the agreement is generally reduced and frozen at a low agricultural rate. The Forest Conservation and Management Agreement (FCMA) establishes the length of the agreement and the responsibilities of both the owner and the Department.

Forest Legacy Program

The Forest Legacy Program is a federal program run in partnership with states to protect important forests from conversion and development. The program provides up to 75% federal cost-share for the purchase of conservation easements to protect forest land, and requires 25% non-federal match. To be eligible, a property must be in a Forest Legacy Area, and be at least 75% forested, with the remaining land in a compatible use, such as agriculture. Properties are ranked at the state and national level for funding. Interested landowners can contact Colleen Kenny at colleen.kenny@maryland.gov for further information.

Income Tax Modification for Reforestation & Timber Stand Improvement

Provides a modification to personal income taxes for initiating forest management practices such as timber stand improvement and reforestation. Applicant must own between 10 and 500 acres of forest land. Practices may qualify for deducting double the cost from their State tax liability.​​​​

Maryland Environmental Trust

Conservation Easement Program - Conservation Property Tax Credit

Program encourages donation of conservation easements and gives participating landowners, a 15-year property tax credit on unimproved land under easement to the Maryland Environmental Trust. Conservation easements generate credits against state income tax liability. Credits are more powerful incentives than deductions because they represent a direct offset against tax due rather than a reduction of the income against which tax is assessed.

Conservation Easement Program - State Income Tax Credit

Program encourages donation of conservation easements and gives landowners a state income tax credit in return for the donation of easement to the Maryland Environmental Trust or the Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation. The maximum credit is $5,000 per year. The remainder of the credit (based on the appraised value of the easement) may be carried forward for up to 15 years for a maximum credit of $80,000.