Matching Awards Program

Application Process



The National Forest Foundation recently completed a new five-year strategic plan. The current 2015 round of the Matching Awards Program will be the last round with the focus areas of Wildlife Habitat Improvement, Recreation, Watershed Health and Restoration, and Community-Based Forestry.

 A second 2015 Matching Awards Program round will be held in June and emphasize the new NFF strategic priorities of Forest Health and Outdoor Experiences. There may be some overlap between old and new priorities and requirements as the NFF transitions the program. A new Request for Proposals will be issued early in 2015 for the next round of the program.


 Programmatic Requirements

The NFF encourages organizations to position their proposed projects within at least one of our areas of programmatic emphasis, each of which are given equal priority. These areas are Wildlife Habitat Improvement, Recreation, Watershed Health and Restoration, and Community-Based Forestry. Each is briefly described below.

Wildlife Habitat Improvement

The diverse habitats found within the National Forests and Grasslands support more than 3,000 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, and amphibians. For many Americans, engaging in wildlife viewing, fishing, and hunting within these habitats often serves as the primary means of connection to the outdoors, and provides important revenue for state and local economies.

The continuing growth of population centers in the United States has had a negative impact on the overall habitat of many species. The NFF is working to safeguard these threatened species and the forest lands on which they depend for survival. The NFF will make investments in projects that improve conditions for maintaining viable populations of native plants and animals, while meeting public demand for wildlife viewing, hunting and fishing, through project activities such as:

  • Juniper removal to help restore sagebrush ecosystems and improve quail habitat;
  • Treatments for noxious weeds and plant succession to protect crucial habitat for rare species.


Recreation is the fastest growing use of National Forests and Grasslands. The increase in visitor usage and encroaching development result in increased human impacts to ecosystems. Maintaining the integrity of these forest and grassland resources is vital for both ecosystem viability and quality recreational experiences. Through support of local restoration activities and citizen involvement, the NFF can help to ameliorate these pressures and ease their effects on resources on and adjacent to public lands, while still providing economic benefits to the surrounding communities.

The NFF is interested in projects that address the rising demand for outdoor recreation in National Forests and Grasslands through projects activities such as:

  • Restoration of the impacts of excessive or inappropriate use in sensitive areas;
  • Improvement of recreational resources through trail restoration and maintenance.

Watershed Health & Restoration

National Forest lands are the largest single source of fresh water in the United States. Waters originating on National Forest lands bring life to agricultural lands and provide clean drinking water to communities, and are conservatively estimated to be worth at least $3.7 billion per year. Protecting these watersheds is one of the primary reasons the U.S. Forest Service was established, and maintaining and restoring these watersheds is of vital importance. The patchwork of federal and non-federal lands in many watersheds makes public-private partnerships even more crucial to ensuring clean water and vibrant ecosystems.

The NFF will support watershed restoration and enhancement projects, especially those initiatives that include diverse perspectives and address critical issues such as non-point source pollution and fish habitat enhancement through project activities such as:

  • Sediment reduction through slope stabilization and contouring;
  • Planting of native species in damaged riparian areas;
  • Removal of invasive exotic species;
  • Culvert replacement to improve fish passage.

Community-Based Forestry

The NFF believes that communities can work to improve natural resources while providing local economic and social benefits. The aim of community-based forestry is to empower those who work, live and recreate in the woods to work together and strive toward common goals.

The NFF will make investments in community-based forestry projects, particularly those that focus on forest health and restoration. Projects should address the need for greater collaboration in community-based forestry projects. Local constituencies should be included in the decision-making process through ecological restoration activities and action-oriented training, conservation and restoration projects that support project activities such as:

  • Implementation or monitoring of collaboratively developed fuel reduction projects;
  • Fire recovery efforts, involving re-seeding, erosion control, and/or riparian restoration;
  • Citizen-based monitoring and/or fuels reduction efforts, including where National Forest System lands benefit in the wildland/urban interface.

Civic Engagement and Community Involvement

In addition to focusing on the above four programmatic emphasis areas, the NFF requires projects to show a strong commitment to civic engagement and community involvement through the direct involvement of the public in on-the-ground conservation, restoration, and citizen-based monitoring projects. Different types of projects provide different opportunities for the engagement of communities. These opportunities typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Providing input and developing projects as part of a collaborative group or effort;
  • Collecting baseline data or data for pre-project monitoring;
  • Engaging volunteers in the various phases of project implementation; or
  • Post-project effectiveness monitoring.


Citizen-Based Monitoring

For some projects, citizen-based monitoring provides an experiential opportunity for volunteers from diverse backgrounds to become involved in conservation work through data collection surrounding the implementation of a project. While citizen-based monitoring can provide a wide variety of project data, the NFF will only support data collection to inform specific Forest Service information needs and the Forest Service must show a commitment to using the data in management decisions once collected. Examples of eligible monitoring include: long-term monitoring of the impacts of a vegetative treatment, tracking changes in an ecosystem over time to plan possible future treatments, cataloging the locations of nonnative invasive species, or monitoring remotely-triggered cameras in wildlife corridors. Data must be collected using replicable, standardized methods, and reporting formats must be coordinated with Forest Service managers to ensure data transferability.


Who Should Apply?

Applications will be considered from non-federal partners, community-based organizations, Native American tribes and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations implementing action-oriented on-the-ground conservation and citizen-based monitoring projects on or around National Forests or Grasslands.


Who Should Not Apply?

Applications will not be considered from:

  • Federal agencies;
  • Regional, state or local governmental entities;
  • For-profit organizations;
  • Consultants;
  • Educational and research organizations proposing projects that do not show tangible, on-the-ground benefit;
  • Organizations seeking general operating or programmatic support;
  • Organizations seeking funding for litigation or advocacy;
  • Organizations that cannot produce a 1:1 cash match of non-federal, project-directed funds.
  • Organizations considering submitting a proposal for a project that cannot be completed within one year of award.


Selection Criteria

Funding rounds are expected to become increasingly competitive. Successful projects will support the major strategic initiatives and current priorities of the NFF and the U.S. Forest Service. Priority will be given to action-oriented projects that proactively address at least one of the programmatic emphasis areas through on-the-ground conservation projects or citizen-based monitoring. Projects must have significant community involvement or civic engagement in the pre-implementation, implementation, or post-implementation phases. Environmental education, kiosks and signage are not program priorities and will only be considered when included as minor, critical components of larger projects.


How do I apply?

To access the MAP Request for Proposals, potential applicants must sucessfully complete a pre-screening questionnaire. Click here to begin the pre-screening questionnaire.


2015 Deadlines

Round 1: January 14, 2015 (Current Guidelines)

Round 2: June 24, 2015 (New Guidelines)

Please note that all projects selected for funding in 2015 will be contingent on the NFF's receipt of 2015 federal appropriated funds.



Please review the MAP FAQs.


If you have questions about the program not answered in the FAQs or want to discuss potential project fit, please contact Adam Liljeblad, Director of Conservation Awards, via email or at (406) 830-3357.


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