The Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition (VWRC) is continually working to develop a revenue stream that is sufficient in magnitude to accomplish our program’s goals and reliable enough to confidently ensure long-term watershed health. VWRC hopes to accomplish this by expanding new funding sources, collaborating at the city, county, & tribal levels for funding assistance, maintaining & enhancing current relationships from state & federal agencies, and continuing to be proactive in writing grants to secure a diverse funding stream.

What are the components of riparian restoration?

Blue Heron on the Verde River

Blue Heron on the Verde River

When field crews are engaged in on-the-ground riparian restoration work on accessible sites, stakeholders, landowners, and community members can directly observe the level of time and resources committed to the treatment phase of a project. However, the “true costs” and timeframes of riparian restoration are often less apparent. From initial fundraising, to mapping, compliance, post-treatment reporting, monitoring, and restoration, each component has its own associated costs. A typical riparian restoration project may require the following:

Planning and project management

  • Identifying and mapping treatment areas (annually, and overall)
  • Landowner outreach and agreements
  • Compliance: permitting and wildlife surveys, where appropriate
  • Researching and applying for funding
  • Native plant propagation or contract for native plants, where appropriate

Implementation

  • Priority invasive plant management
  • Biomass reduction (either through chipping, piling, or other means)
  • Native plant revegetation (e.g., seeding, shrub planting) and the planning that supports successful revegetation efforts (e.g., ground water monitoring, soil salinity testing)
  • Interim and final reporting to funders

Monitoring (See VWRC Rapid and Long-term Monitoring Protocols)

Maintenance and re-treatment

Kayaker on the Verde River

Kayaker on the Verde River

In some cases, the maintenance phase of a project continues in perpetuity to ensure the long-term success of a project. Whether a project requires a shorter maintenance phase (e.g. 5 or 10 years) or a longer maintenance phase (in perpetuity) developing fundraising strategies that are dynamic, diverse and flexible can be the key to protecting restoration work that has been completed. Sustainable funding strategies are strategies that ensure an ongoing, unrestricted income stream; these strategies combine multiple fundraising approaches, including but not limited to:

  • applying for grants
  • creating line items in federal budgets (cost share with stakeholder land management agencies)
  • Cultivating relationships with private donors and legacy giving (private donor base)
  • Hosting community events
  • partnering with corporations and industry
  • working with utilities on voluntary rate-payer surcharge programs
  • working with local businesses on voluntary customer surcharge (such as “One for the Verde” pilot program)
  • participating in a payment for watershed services program
  • creating a reserve fund or other managed fund to generate income from interest
  • fee-for-service
  • cultivating and capturing in-kind and matching contributions from individuals and partner organizations

A VWRC Sustainable Funding Subcommittee meets monthly to identify grants that are a good fit for partnership projects and mission, keep track of proposal submission deadlines, and explore many of the fundraising approaches listed above. The VWRC Sustainable Funding Subcommittee reports monthly to the VWRC Steering Committee. Subcommittee members include representatives from Friends of the Verde River, Prescott National Forest, Arizona Game and Fish, Vetraplex, and the Tamarisk Coalition. Through regular participation on this Subcommittee, agency staff are in a better position to request agency funding for VWRC projects at the beginning of the fiscal year as budgets are developed, and to facilitate transfers of unspent funds to VWRC at the end of the fiscal year. Each member brings valuable experience and insights to the fundraising process. None of the accomplishments of the partnership would be possible without funding secured through the work of the Sustainable Funding Subcommittee and FVRG staff.

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