Performance of Our Partners

By sharing the Chesapeake Bay Program’s DEIJ statement with all partners, including the larger Chesapeake Bay watershed community; increasing access to DEIJ training and capacity building; developing and distributing guidance on including DEIJ and environmental justice criteria in grant targeting and evaluations; developing and sharing DEIJ communication and distribution guidance; and developing and sharing tracking and reporting guidance


Decision support tools to advance equity and environmental justice

Screenshot of the map application
  • The Office of Outdoor Recreation looks at low-income areas and seeks ways to create new economic opportunities through outdoor recreation and tourism in partnership with the Maryland Department of Commerce.
  • The MD Climate and Health Equity Screening GIS Tool to identify areas of disproportionate environmental and climate burdens that have been underrepresented in restoration and resilience efforts for potential new partnerships. Developed in partnership with the University of Maryland.
  • Coastal Resiliency Assessment: targeting nature-based projects in communities that are less able to prepare for, respond to and/or recover from coastal hazard events. Assessment included social vulnerability indices based on Census data and methods used by other state agencies. Methodology for Maryland's Coastal Vulnerability Assessment (aligned with USACE North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study) is published. Updates will be performed once the 2020 Census data are available.
  • Targeted Resiliency Areas: Analysis to identify geographies that are vulnerable to climate change impacts for focused financial and technical assistance. Funding will be allocated to select TRAs to develop natural and nature-based resiliency projects that form a portfolio of projects for future implementation and long-term financing. Selection criteria include benefits to communities disproportionately affected by climate change impacts.
  • With a focus on resource allocation and capacity building, the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays Trust Fund priority map used for soliciting funding proposals is currently being updated to include co-benefits and DEIJ considerations. 
  • Evaluating Potential Boating Infrastructure Projects: CCS partnered with Morgan State University to create a tool to aid the department in selecting boating infrastructure projects for funding. This tool incorporates physical data on the channel, local amenities, biological data on water quality and fishing opportunities, along with socioeconomic data on income, population density, and race. 
  • Green Infrastructure Conservation, Restoration and Resiliency Opportunity mapping: This tool will identify restoration potential and ecological and climate resiliency co-benefits across Maryland. Mapping criteria includes identification of socially vulnerable populations as a factor for prioritizing resiliency opportunities. Project ongoing.

Grant making criteria to ensure funding opportunities consider equity and environmental justice

  • The MDOT Urban Tree Program grants support eligible projects that had trees removed as part of the construction of a transportation facility project and are affected by heat islands or by environmental justice issues. Those areas affected by the Purple Line construction are also eligible. Trees can be replanted on public or private lands. This grant is being implemented through the Maryland Forest Service’s Maryland Urban and Community Forests Committee.
  • Land Acquisition and Planning awards grants to local governments and land trusts statewide for parks, recreation, and preservation projects. Every county receives a Program Open Space Local allocation (project determined by the local ju​risdiction and reviewed by DNR). Each municipality is eligible to apply for Community Parks and Playgrounds grant funds and we contact all municipalities with grant opportunities and to provide assistance. Additionally, Program Open Space Local funds require counties to include a Park Equity Analysis in their Local Land Preservation, Parks and Recreation Plans (LPPRP), which are updated at least every five years. The preparation and/or regular update of an LPPRP is a prerequisite for county participation in Maryland’s Program Open Space (POS) Local [per Section 5-905(b) (2) of the Natural Resources Article – Annotated Code of Maryland], which provides annual grants for the acquisition of land for conservation and park purposes as well as for the development of public recreation facilities. Information from the LPPRPs guides land conservation and parks and recreation planning and decision-making within each county and the projects funded with Program Open Space Local funds. Projects funded with POS Local funds are determined by the local jurisdiction that submits individual project applications to DNR.
  • LWCF Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) is a nationally competitive grant program that delivers funding to urban areas with priority given to projects located in economically disadvantaged areas and lacking in outdoor recreation opportunities. These awards help underserved communities address outdoor recreation deficits by supporting projects in cities and densely populated urbanized areas. DNR’s Land Acquisition and Planning has applied for ORLP grants on several occasions on behalf of local jurisdictions.
  • CCS Grants Gateway - Several funding outcomes specifically mention DEIJ criteria as an element of successful proposal considerations. The current Grants Gateway solicitation references the following:
    • Outcome 1: Accelerate recovery and restoration of natural resources by implementing nonpoint source pollution reduction projects.
      • Special focus area for fiscal year 2023: The EPA provided funding to the state of Maryland to drive forward implementation of water quality projects in underrepresented communities. DNR is soliciting project ideas from local partners; all proposed projects must be located within the EPA priority areas.
    • Outcome 3: Utilize natural and nature-based infrastructure to enhance community resilience to climate change:
      • Encourages proposals that address environmental justice needs.

    • Outcome 4: Improve student ability to take action benefiting Chesapeake and coastal ecosystems through outdoor learning and stewardship.
      • Includes a requirement to support proposals with data / info to show need (economic, diversity and/or serving under-resourced students, local environmental quality, etc) with an emphasis on serving needs/gaps.Projects that include environmental and climate justice as a frame or focus to build community collaboration and change through civic action are encouraged to apply for this funding.

Communication and Capacity Building

  • The Office of Outdoor Recreation works to increase communication of opportunities in underutilized areas which aims to build capacity by: providing supportive services and organizational structure to the entity responsible for the outdoor recreation in the underutilized area which accelerates the growth of opportunity and capacity; being a one-stop shop for the entity responsible for the outdoor recreation in underutilized areas and provide a direct line of communication for questions and/ or advice in all things related to outdoor recreation including, tourism, economic development, structure, etc.; and assist in developing legislation, policy, procedures, and guidelines that help protect the rich natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources while providing opportunities for public interaction and enjoyment.
  • Community-Based Organization Capacity Building Initiative. The Department of Natural Resources established a partnership with Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT), to launch the Capacity Building Organization-Capacity Building Initiative (CBO-CBI). This program will identify historically under-engaged community-based organizations that have not previously participated in two grant programs - the Watershed Assistance Grant Program and the Resiliency Through Restoration Initiative. Interested organizations will receive the technical assistance needed to develop robust proposals to these grant programs. This initiative will enhance the state's capacity to achieve Bay restoration goals and regulatory requirements by making the collective body of organizations pursuing restoration projects more inclusive.
  • Partnership with Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (ACB): For the past 6 years, DNR CCS has partnered with the ACB to provide sponsorships to the annual ACB Watershed Forums. The intent of these sponsorships is to ensure that the cost of attending the Forum does not deter potential attendees from under-represented groups and communities from participating. Over the past several years, DNR and ACB have worked together to expand the scope and impact of this partnership by adding additional watershed educational components. Last year’s funding was used to sponsor the participation of Bowie State students and their faculty advisors at the Forum, assist Dr. Alan Anderson in establishing a student-led water quality-monitoring project in order to connect studies to real-world application and watershed health1, and develop (in coordination with Dr. Anderson and students) a two-part seminar series with programming on equity in the Bay environmental movement and public and environmental health. Funding to be provided for Fall 2021 - Summer 2023 will continue to support this Bowie State partnership while also engaging at least one additional Maryland HBCU.
  • Partners for Action and Learning Sustainability (PALS) UMD. Funding various local projects for UMD students to study and propose policy recommendations or design. This partnership allows for the delivery of technical resources for capacity building to local partners across the state and has included such projects as a social vulnerability analysis of areas prone to flooding in order to target community outreach and feedback through the MyCoast application. Other projects include developing a green infrastructure plan for the Greater Baybrook area of South Baltimore, an area of Baltimore that is overburdened with environmental stressors and lacking in public water and green space access. 
  • Environmental Justice Curriculum/Science Program partnership with Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS): DNR is providing funding and technical assistance to BCPS as they work on a science curriculum redesign structured around local social and environmental equity and justice issues while investigating local environmental phenomena. This is a three year partnership to develop a pilot curriculum, which will be publicly available and replicable for other school system’s environmental literacy plans. Curriculum development and field investigations will be developed and implemented in partnership with Maryland Environmental Service (MES) and local HBCUs with community ties.
  • Youth Environmental Education Pooled Fund in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Trust (The Trust) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): This is a newly developed, collaborative fund with State environmental education funding partners to intentionally reduce access and barriers to funding and resources for traditionally underserved communities and partners in Maryland and throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed working with youth on environmental literacy.
  • Connecting Hispanic and Latin communities with the natural world. Maryland’s Coastal Program (CCS, NOAA) is partnering with Defensores de la Cuenca to help the Latin@ community connect with the natural world through knowledge, shared experiences, and opportunities to preserve and defend the Chesapeake Bay watershed for a healthier mind, body and soul. One of several initiatives spotlights working with the Chesapeake Conservancy​ to deploy departmental bilingual rangers into some of the busiest coastal State Parks. In 2021, the bilingual rangers connected with over 1,000 Spanish-speaking visitors to increase safety, enhance programming, and to further stewardship of Maryland’s natural resources and the Chesapeake Bay.
    Photo of members of Maryland’s Coastal Program (CCS, NOAA) and Defensores de la Cuenca