FAQ - Application Questions

Who can apply for funding from the Common Waters Fund?
Any private forest landowner that meets the following basic requirements is eligible for the Common Waters Fund:

  • Have a minimum parcel size of 5 acres (25 acres for easements)
  • The parcel must be located in a priority funding area – you can determine if you are in a priority funding area by visiting the Map
  • You must be eligible for the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program

If you are a land trust working with a landowner in a priority funding area, you may also be able to apply for a grant to cover certain costs associated with establishing a conservation easement. Visit Conservation Easements for more details.

Am I eligible for the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program?
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) has some very basic eligibility requirements, listed below. You will need to visit the nearest Farm Service Agency office to complete some simple paperwork to certify your eligibility. Eligibility requirements:

  • You must own or have legal control of non-industrial forest land (e.g. a working family forest)
  • You must comply with USDA requirements related to highly erodible land and wetlands, generally meaning that you have not filled a wetland on your property
  • Your average adjusted gross income from non-farm sources (e.g. not forestry) must be less than $1 million per year

As the landowner, you are responsible for ensuring you are eligible for EQIP before you apply to the Common Waters Fund. The Common Waters Fund does not collect information from you on EQIP eligibility. We will ask you to certify that you are eligible, but not require that you submit that paperwork to us.

How do I apply for funding?
There are four categories of funding available from the Common Waters Fund. Each category has its own application, which can be accessed below:

Where can I get help completing my application?
In each county, the Common Waters Fund has a local partner available to work with you on your application. The local partner can answer all of your questions about the program, help you determine if you are eligible, assist you with completing your application, and accept your application for review.

New Jersey:
Sussex County Conservation District
Clifford Lundin, 973/579-5074

Warren County Soil Conservation District
Sandra Myers, 908-852-2579

New York:
Catskill Forest Association
Ryan Trapani, 845/586-3054

Sullivan County Soil & Water Conservation District
Brian Brustman, 845-292-6552

Pike County Conservation District
Susan Beecher, 570-226-8220

Wayne Conservation District
Paul Reining, 570-253-0930

Monroe County Conservation District
Victor Motts, 570-629-3060

When will I know if my application has been accepted?
If you apply for funding before May 2, 2011, you can expect to hear from the Common Waters Fund about your application in early June, 2011. Applications received after May 2, 2011 will be reviewed on a quarterly basis with notifications according to the following pattern:

Received by: Notification by:
May 2, 2011 Early June 2011
August 1, 2011 Early September 2011
November 1, 2011 Early December 2011
February 1, 2012 Early March 2012
May 1, 2012 Early June 2012

How is my application reviewed by the Common Waters Fund?
The Common Waters Fund has established ranking criteria to score applications. Every application is objectively evaluated against the same ranking criteria. Higher scoring applications are awarded funding first until all the funding for a given funding period is expended. The score required to receive funding in any given round will vary depending on funding available, the number of applications, and the average score of applications.

What happens when I am notified that my application has been approved?
After your application is approved, we obligate funding for your project and send you a contract in the mail. This contract states that you agree to carry out the practices in your application and that you will be paid the amounts specified in your application. Once you sign your contract and put it in the mail back to us or deliver it to the office of your local Common Waters Fund partner, you are free to begin work on your project including purchasing supplies, contracting with a forester or service provider, etc. You will receive payment from the Common Waters Fund once your plan or project is complete.

I applied to the Common Waters Fund and my application was not accepted. Can I apply again?
In most cases, yes, you can apply again in a subsequent funding round. If you applied online the first time, we recommend that you visit or call the Common Waters Fund partner in your county to check to make sure you meet the basic program eligibility requirements. If you applied in person at a partner office, it is likely that your application did not rank high enough to receive funding in the first time you applied. If you are interested in applying again, you should talk with the partner office about how you may be able to improve your application.

How often can I apply for funding from the Common Waters Fund?
You may submit one application per funding round. However, you cannot submit an application for the same forest management practice(s) as was funded in a previous round unless the new application includes an expansion of the practice. For example, you can apply to install 250 feet of riparian buffer tree plantings in one application and another 100 feet in the next application period for a total of 350 feet of riparian buffer tree planting. If you apply for a Forest Stewardship Plan and are accepted, you cannot apply for additional Forest Stewardship Plan funding for 10 years unless you acquire additional forestland.